Alright, we’re into the next tier of teams here. While the top 5 are obviously who I would select for my own League Pass and the 6-10 are those just missing the cut, these are the teams I am genuinely curious about but am unwilling to watch night-in and night-out. These are the check ’em out every week or two, read the news updates, buy-in halfway through the season golden boys. And now…
The Miami Heat. Oh poor, poor Heat fans. Oh poor, poor Pat Riley. Oh poor, poor… oh wait? No one cares? Yeah, that’s right. No one cares. You had your fun Miami, we don’t want to hear you cry. Besides, between Paul George’s gruesome FIBA injury and Lance Stephenson bolting for Buzz City, the Heat can’t even claim to have had the worst offseason in the League, best player in the world be damned.
I’d like to think that Lebron leaving South Beach was some kind of delayed karmic payback for Heat fans leaving the arena early during Game 6 of 2013’s Finals and missing Ray Allen’s transcendent three point shot. (Yes, I know, everyone who has watched Sports Center in the last two years has seen that. I don’t care. I can watch this clip again and again and be happy.) Or maybe payback for the awful “8 rings” Big 3 press conference+, or for their horrible 7 Nation Army stadium White-Outs, or Justin Bieber’s Hat. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Lebron is gone and this is a team that has to pick up the pieces.
Which they did excellently. Kudos to Pat Riley this guy is some kind of wizard. (Sorry couldn’t help myself there, goin’ a little crazy with the hyperlinks). Dwayne Wade is back on a two year contract, taking an $11 Million discount. Chris Bosh is back, which was one of the most surprising things to me from this offseason. Houston was set to go all-in on Bosh after clearing cap space by trading Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, but the Heat big man elected to stay in Miami. Maybe out of comfort? Maybe from watching Youtube clips of James Harden playing “defense“? Or maybe out of a real desire to be a team’s No. 1 scoring option again. Whatever the case, dinosaur jokes aside, Bosh is a seriously underrated player. His versatility, both offensively and defensively, are a huge part of what makes the Heat the Heat and should allow him to become a dominant player without James running the offense.
The newcomers are very interesting as well. Luol Deng will fill in for James at the SF spot after a failed attempt to help Cleveland reach the postseason. Deng has the reputation of an all-around player with a great attitude (which was shown in how tastefully he handled Danny Ferry’s “African” comments) but I think he’s a little too old to defend the league’s premier forwards begging the question, who will? The team also acquired the passing, glue-guy, Boris Diaw-esque talents of Josh “McBob” McRoberts in a move that would’ve made this season soooo interesting if Lebron had stayed (simply watch).
What’s the ceiling for this team? Or, more interestingly, what’s the floor? Although they did lose the best player on the planet, they are arguably a little deeper than last year, though will certainly miss the shooting and veteran leadership of Allen. Most analysts have credited Riley’s stop-gap moves with a spot in the postseason, but if the Bulls and Cavs have a hard time pulling things together, these guys could be looking at a potential return to the finals for a 5th year in a row. Never count on the goofy-looking excellence of coach Erik Spoelstra or the fact that Bosh and Wade will rise to the challenge of their greater responsibilities. Or, of course, this team could lose swaths of its fickle fanbase and several of its older players to injury as it struggles to cope without Lebron’s mastermind and fails to post a winning record. I can’t tell which one would be more fun to watch.
X-Factor Dwayne Wade
Wade recently announced his goal for the season is to play all 82 games. Wow. Believe it when I fucking see it, wanna bet on that one Wade? To be fair, Wade is only 32; two years older than Melo and 3 more than Lebron, but this guy can look like an octogenarian on the court. I can’t remember seeing him dunk and certainly never blocking a shot, but Wade could take a note from Kobe and revitalize his career with cunning and old-man tricks instead of out-and-out speed. Even though many of us might think of last season as somewhat of a dud, Wade did average 19 ppg on 55% shooting and could easily work his way towards dropping 25 a night.
+ Bosh’s Pit lolz