Robert Dozier could fit in with versatile Heat

Kevin C. Cox - Getty Images

People cannot take much out of preseason games, especially when key players are sidelined.

But for some players, exhibition games and training camp represent their only chance of making an NBA squad. Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony and Terrel Harris all needed to work through the Heat pipeline to make the 15-man roster.

Miami has 13 players with guaranteed contracts, but perhaps Pat Riley is open to adding up to three of the training camp invites. Miami cut Eddie House, who had a guaranteed contract, to make room for the team to sign Harris and Mickell Gladness last December.

Robert Dozier received 20 minutes of playing time Sunday afternoon, almost twice as much as Harrellson got. Dozier was "Mr. Irrelevant" in 2009, with Miami selecting him with the last pick in the draft. After playing overseas for three years, Dozier played in the Heat’s summer league team in 2012 and earned a training camp invite.

Against the Hawks, the 6-foot-9 power forward played pretty well. He apparently has added some muscle to his previously frail frame since his days of playing with the Memphis Tigers in college (Dozier played with Derrick Rose in Memphis during the 2007-08 season, ultimately falling to Mario Chalmers and the Kansas Jayhawks in the final game). He grabbed six rebounds, played solid defense and made a couple of jump shots in his time on the floor. ESPN’s John Hollinger said that he was impressed with Dozier’s performance against Atlanta.

Moreover, Dozier fits into Miami’s new style of what Erik Spoelstra called "position-less basketball." He’s versatile, long, athletic, and can defend multiple positions. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers all played well in the Finals because they defended several players and offered offensive skills to stretch the floor. Dozier still has to play well over the rest of the preseason schedule, but he looks like he has the potential to do that.

Harrellson is likely to make the team because of his unique floor-spacing abilities as a big man, and the Palm Beach Post’s Ethan J. Skolnick tweeted that he’d be surprised if Harris didn’t make a roster spot. But Dozier can still make this roster if Riley decides to waive Dexter Pittman.

The Heat’s effort to play conventional basketball allowed Erick Dampier, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamaal Magloire, Eddy Curry and Ronny Turiaf to soak up minutes and roster spots. As a result, Miami’s lineups were decidedly worse offensively than the ones with Bosh as the center. The Heat don’t need another lumbering center like Pittman, who hasn’t shown much of any development in more than two years with the team. Dozier may not be as good as Kenneth Faried, but he probably fits with this team more than Pittman does. Miami’s offseason moves – signing Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis – signaled that Riley buys into the new Heat style. Why have another old-school center on this team when a young prospect who has more potential is available?

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