Miami doesn't have to win its division in 2008-09.
Or win 50 games.
Or even make the playoffs.
Though any or all of the above would be great, none of the three have to happen for this season to be considered a success.
Here's what does:
1. Michael Beasley must adequately defend one of the forward positions.
Beasley's going to score, and he's going to rebound, though neither will be as easy as it was at Kansas State. What Beasley needs to prove is that he can play NBA-quality defense. I'd prefer that be at the power forward spot, since that's where I'd like to see him slot in for the next 10 years, but it could just as well be at the 3. The point is, Beasley must figure out either perimeter or post defense to the point that he's not negating his offense by becoming a liability on the other end. And the foul trouble he lived in this summer has to be reined in.
2. A point guard must emerge.
I don't care which one it is but either Chris Quinn or Mario Chalmers must become established as a viable long-term starter in the system Miami is putting together. Miami doesn't need a magnificent playmaker next to Dwyane Wade - it needs a solid ball-handler who can knock down shots and keep opponents out of the lane. Quinn and Chalmers both have the tools to be that guy.
3. Dwyane Wade must stay healthy.
All the momentum of Wade's brilliant summer will be lost if he goes down with another injury, whether it's a recurrence of his previous problems or some new calamity. Wade did so much to reestablish himself as a rare star with Team USA, but it's fragile - one more big injury would re-label him as injury-prone and reopen the Penny Hardaway scenario, plus send the Heat into the tank again.
4. The cap space must be kept intact.
There might be a couple of inticing names floating around at the trade deadline, but it should take a top-10 superstar for Miami to budge from its mission of hoarding cap space for the summer of 2010. The standard: if the Heat is going to commit to a big 2010-11 salary this season, the player they get must be as good or better than Chris Bosh, a player it has a reasonable chance of stealing away. Even if we really suck this year, the plan is solid, and it should be seen through to completion.