USA TODAY Sports
Chris Andersen's hustle and high-energy play is precisely what the Miami Heat needed from their bench.
Special guest post from Caitlin Anderson (@HeartBreakCait)
On February 8th, Pat Riley and the Miami Heat made the game-changing decision to add 6'10", 230 pound center/forward Chris "Birdman" Andersen to their roster for the remainder of the 2013 season, and for very obvious reasons. After signing Andersen to two 10-day contracts to see what he had to offer, the team ultimately decided that Birdman was the missing link in the already dominant Miami Heat chain.
When speaking about the Miami Heat, the phrase "pick your poison" was often a sufficient way to describe the teams remarkable talent from all offensive aspects; though the same could not be said about their defense. The Miami Heat had been struggling to find a way to make the team unbeatable on all ends of the court and complete their roster, which happened to be lacking solely in Birdman's areas of specialty: defense and rebounding. What the Miami Heat saw in Andersen was what they hoped would be the answer to the team's many prayers; a high-energy, defense oriented, swingman who would not only play with a constant sense of urgency, but would also act as an all-around team player. That's exactly what they got. A pivotal component that could completely turn the Miami Heat defense around: the game changer.
There's no question as to why the Heat decided to make Andersen's position on the team more permanent, he simply fit the quota.
Since signing with the Heat, Andersen has been that spark to ignite the flame, filling in the gaps left open by other teammates, particularly on defense. Andersen is the type of player who plays every game with the same amount of intensity as the next, and his presence on the court never goes unnoticed. Andersen is extremely unselfish, coming into the game to set screens or protect the paint when his team needs him, and is never concerned with glory. He's the type of player every coach dreams of having on their team, which may be one reason Coach Spoelstra referred to signing Birdman as a "no-brainer." Having Andersen on the team offers Coach Spo another, more defensive option at center; leaving Chris Bosh available to play more at the power forward position when needed.
Judging by the way we have seen Andersen play in his debut with the Miami Heat, some would have never guessed that he spent the past nine months away from basketball, having undergone knee surgery in July. "Rusty" is the last word that would be used to describe the energetic-as-ever and hard-working Chris Andersen since his return to the NBA.
We have not even seen the best of Birdman, yet we can already see the immediate difference he has made, and continues to make, for the Heat defense. Should Andersen continue to perform, adding his dominating, high-intensity defense to the roster of the defending NBA Champions, the Miami Heat could become virtually unstoppable come post-season.