Who is he?
The solid defensive yet offensively inept center, Joel Anthony is the longest-tenured member of the Miami Heat with the exceptions of Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem. During the Big Three Era, Anthony has failed to win a consistent rotational role with Miami. He's lost his starting job at various points over the last two years and became a non-factor in the 2012 Finals, but contributed during Chris Bosh's absence in the playoffs.
What will his role be?
Joel Anthony will mostly likely play during the 82-game grind of the regular season, but may find himself on the bench during the playoffs. Chris Bosh appears to have accepted the role as a full-time center, and Udonis Haslem and Rashard Lewis will take up minutes at the four to prevent Shane Battier or LeBron James from defending bigger players during the regular season. That might change when the Heat play against teams with bigger frontcourts like the Memphis Grizzlies or Los Angeles Lakers. In the playoffs, Erik Spoelstra may choose to play Battier and James at the four, like he did last year to great effect. Anthony appears set for roles as a limited backup during the regular season and a situational player for the postseason.
Josh Harrellson could turn Anthony into an afterthought, though. Harrellson is strongest in two of Anthony's weaknesses: rebounding and offense. If Miami doesn't suffer defensively with Harrellson on the floor, Anthony could become the odd man out. Anthony could then become an insurance option, but Udonis Haslem and Bosh have both suffered significant injuries over the last two years.
What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Anthony is an extremely mobile pick-and-roll defender who can block shots. He works especially well at trapping the ball-handler and recovering back to his man during a pick-and-roll set. At times in the 2012 Finals, Russell Westbrook got into the lane for easy layups because no one offered resistance at the rim. Perhaps Anthony could have prevented some of those baskets, but he also would have taken some easy points away with his botched catches and missed shots.
He still offers something on the offensive end, however. Many of Anthony's blocks lead to fast-break opportunities, and he sets hard screens for Wade and James. Miami actually scored more points per possession with Anthony on the court than Shane Battier or Udonis Haslem last season (although both players had uncharacteristically bad shooting performances from the field). The Heat still essentially play four-on-five offensively when he's on the floor, and he doesn't have much of a repertoire. Although Anthony is a solid defender, he is a bit undersized and doesn't have the girth to match up with Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum.
Joel Anthony will make another legendary pass this season.