The picture of Jermaine O'Neal throwing down on Kris Humphries and O'Neal's play in general of late got me to thinking. For the most part we (me as much as anybody) has staked the success of the Heat on Beasley's performance in tandem with Dwyane Wade. Now, I also look at Coach Spoelstra's mismanagement of minutes for shooters, but the year JO has been having made me think: Is he, and should he be, the Heat's most celebrated player behind Dwyane Wade?
Of course Wade has to be effective for us to be successful as a team, but who's the next most important guy? Arroyo's emergence as the best fit at starting PG, Q's timely shooting (especially early in games since he's a forgotten man late in games), erratic contributions from Beasley are great, but I contend that JO is the guy that makes or breaks this team behind Wade. Here's my reasoning:
In 25 games in which JO has scored at least 16 points, the Heat are 14-11 (a 0.560 winning %).
In the 37 games in which he has had at least 18 points, the record improves to 13-8 (a 0.619 %).
In the 46 games in which JO has scored less than 16, the record is a dismal 19-21 (0.475).
Strangely enough though, the Heat are 4-2 (0.667) in the 6 games he has not suited up, so go figure!
JO has, at worst, shown that he has a bit left in the tank. At best, he has shown that he is more valuable than you might think at first glance.
As good as JO was for us during the season, his Miami Heat tombstone will likely only make mention of how he fell apart during the 2010 Playoffs.