Vacations are great and much needed at times, but now that I'm home and still awake I wanted to type up something I'd been thinking about during my break. First though, a quick thanks to all of you for keeping things live and interesting while I was away. Now that the Heat has a more then full roster, there isn't much more for us to do then wait and speculate...
One thing that has been on my mind lately is Joel Anthony starting at center. To me, it seems like the obvious decision to start him over Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Miami's starting lineup is not going to lack anything on offense with all their new acquisitions, so having the defensive minded Anthony out there will provide a nice balance.
Those of you who have been following the Heat closely for the last couple years have probably said on more then one occasion that if Joel Anthony got a chance to start, or play 25+ minutes a game, he could possibly lead the league in blocked shots. While that seems like a very lofty goal, especially with Dwight Howard out there playing 35 minutes a game and averaging just under 3 blocks, the numbers say otherwise.
Joel should be right up there with the league leaders in blocks, while probably still averaging 5-10 minutes less then the people around him on the stat sheet. Anthony has averaged 1.4 blocks while playing just 16 minutes a game in each of the past two seasons. Double that and he's averaging more blocks then Dwight (and anyone else in the league) in 2 less minutes a game.
With so much talk about how Mario Chalmers could end up being the next Rajon Rondo, think about the possibility of the numbers Anthony could put up if he played 30-35 minutes every night. The first guy I think of to compare him to, defensively only (at this point) is the great Alonzo Mourning. Zo was a fearless shot blocker and I see a lot of those same qualities in Joel.
Anthony has also shown great improvements in each of his three seasons, working on everything from his footwork to his shooting to his hands. When he first joined the Heat, I thought his hands were literally made of stone. He could block the hell out of the ball but couldn't catch a cold in the paint on offense. That isn't the case anymore, and now he's getting better at making moves with the ball and putting himself in a good position to score.
I also think that it makes more sense for Zydrunas to come off the bench. He's more of an offensive weapon then anything else, so having him on the court when the big 3 are resting seems like the smart thing to do. Of course, until we have an idea of what kind of rotation Erik Spoelstra is going to roll with, all we can do is guess. But for the same reasons I think Joel should start, bringing in Z off the bench and keeping him fresh seems like the logical move.
Who knows...maybe one center will play better with Chris Bosh and the other will be better suited playing with Udonis Haslem. With all the lineup options this roster provides, the possibilities are endless. When the season starts, all the attention will be on the big 3...that's a given. After a couple weeks of Joel Anthony blocking 2-3 shots every game, with many of them on national TV, he could end up being the ‘breakout' guy instead of Mario Chalmers. Or maybe both will breakout...
You know that old saying...'the best players are the ones that make their teammates better'. Well starting now, the Miami Heat are going to put that to the test. Can the ‘Super Friends' turn Joel and Rio into stars the way that Boston did with Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo? Honestly, at this point I have more confidence in Joel then I do Chalmers only because Anthony has shown a steady improvement in all three of his seasons while Rio seemed to take a step backwards in his sophomore year.
That doesn't mean Chalmers doesn't have the skills to become a great point guard in this league, and maybe playing with Wade, Bosh and LeBron will give him the confidence to turn into something special. Just the fact that its up for discussion shows the possibility of Rio (and Joel) becoming something special.