MIAMI, FL - MARCH 03: New aquisition Mike Bibby #0 of the Miami Heat brings the ball up the floor during a game against the Orlando Magic at American Airlines Arena on March 3, 2011 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
The last time the Heat had what you would consider a ‘veteran' as their starting point guard was a few years ago, in the 2007-08 season. Back then it was Jason Williams, who helped Miami win their only NBA title back in 2006. The years following the championship run saw Williams' numbers go on a steady decline, so when he and the Heat parted ways it wasn't seen as a big surprise.
Since Williams, the list has been short for guys who have started at the point for Miami. The bulk of the duty has gone to Mario Chalmers, but Chris Quinn, Rafer Alston and Carlos Arroyo have also manned the point for the Heat over the past 3+ seasons. None of them have provided the kind of stability that J-Will gave, though some would argue that Miami has lacked at the position since they lost Tim Hardaway.
After spending much of 1st half of this season coming off the bench, Chalmers reclaimed the starting job back in late January. Since then he had started 27 straight games for the Heat. Unfortunately, his play was still very much on the inconsistent side, so when the opportunity came up for Pat Riley to make an upgrade at the position, he jumped on it.
Veteran point guard Mike Bibby, who had been traded from the playoff bound Atlanta Hawks to the cellar-dwelling Washington Wizards in late February, was made available after being bought out by the Wiz. Riley didn't hesitate in signing Bibby, who had made it clear he wanted to join a team that would be in contention for a championship.
To make room on the roster, Miami chose to release Carlos Arroyo, who had already been relegated to the end of the bench and was barely seeing any playing time. It made no sense for the Heat to carry 3 point guards considering they often will use Dwyane Wade or LeBron James to carry the ball up the floor. While Arroyo had done well for Miami in the past, his skill set wasn't matching up with the kind of offense that the team is running, and he struggled because of that.
The plan had been to slowly get Bibby comfortable with the Heat's offense and eventually move him into the starting lineup. After a handful of games it seemed that he was on the right track, and while getting acclimated with his surroundings he was showing that he would be a real asset shooting the ball. In his last 7 games, Bibby had made 15-of -28 (53.5%) from beyond the arc.
That was quite different then Mario Chalmers, who in that span had made just 8-of-19 (42.1%) from downtown, which was still an improvement on his season average of 36.6%. It was probably still going to be a little while before any change was made in the starting lineup, but that was until Chalmers went down with a sprained right knee during their win last Saturday over Denver.
Rio is expected to be out for at least two weeks, so whatever ‘slowly but surely' timetable the Heat were using with Mike Bibby was thrown out the window. Even when Chalmers does return to active duty, I doubt he regains the starting job. Bibby is a much better player right now, and while the younger Chalmers may have more of an upside, he has a ways to go before he is considered to be better then Miami's newest acquisition.
The Heat's latest attempt at fielding the starting point guard position will be begin on Wednesday night when they head up to chilly Michigan for a matchup with the Pistons. Miami has been off since Saturday so Bibby has had plenty of practice time, and he says that he is ready to roll. He spent most of the season starting for the Hawks, so we know he can handle the duties. Now we just have to wait and see if he can run an offense with the potency of the Heat's. My guess is that he'll be just fine.