"This is MY house" Good times, they are a-comin'.
Team Name: Miami Heat
Last Year's Record: 43-39
Key Losses: Jamario Moon
Key Additions: Quentin Richardson, Carlos Arroyo, Shavlik Randolph
1. What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?
With Pat Riley planning on attacking the free agent class of 2010, we knew that there would not be much going on this off-season. However, there was one move made that will greatly benefit the Heat this season. Miami was able to deal away Mark Blount, who did nothing but sit on the bench the majority of his tenure with the Heat yet made around $8 million a year, for swingman Quentin Richardson, who despite making slightly more then Blount, will play a significant role in the Heat's rotation. Richardson is also in the final year of his contract, meaning he won't be costing the Heat anything against their 2010 cap. More space to go after free agents with makes Pat Riley very happy.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths?
Other then Dwyane Wade, who is obviously the best thing the Heat have to offer, I'd say out biggest strength this year will be our outside shooting. A couple guys who struggled a bit last year, Daequan Cook and James Jones, are shooting the lights out in the preseason and are poised for big years. Cook won last years All-Star 3-point Shootout and up until that point was having a great shooting season, but struggled in the 2nd half. Jones suffered a wrist injury that required surgery just before the beginning of last season, and didn't start showing his true shooting skill until the Heat's first round playoff exit. Added to the mix is Quentin Richardson, who has shown that he can be a lethal shooter, so why not think the Heat will use these guys to stretch the court for Dwyane Wade.
3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
Defense. While we have some very good offensive players, nobody on the team can be considered a ‘defensive specialist'. In the Eastern Conference, there are several teams with superstars at their position, and then those teams play Miami, the Heat have their hands full. Luckily, they have that Wade guy who can score at will, so there have been and will be some very exciting shootouts. While the Heat will rack up steals and blocks, their half court defense is still a work in progress.
4. What are the goals for this team?
I think that question depends on who you ask. Obviously the main goal is to get as far as possible in the playoffs and compete for a championship. Personally I think the 2nd round of the playoffs is a realistic goal. The problem is, for so many of us realistic Heat fans, we know that next season (2010-2011) is the year to look forward to.
I'd like to see our younger guys (Beasley, Chalmers, Cook) continue to improve, as they are the core of our team. Defense is a big issue with our coaching staff, so improving as a team defensively is a big goal.
5. Will Jermaine O'Neal remember that he is, in fact, a center?
We sure hope so...because never before has such a big guy created such a big hole at the position. He would consistently grab 2-3-4 rebounds a game and made look silly in the defensive paint. He worked with legendary trainer Tim Grover over the summer and looked good in the final two games of the preseason, but we'll see how that translates into the regular season. Jermaine is definitely a wild card for the Heat this season.
45-37 2nd in Southeast Division. The Heat will likely make the playoffs with a 4-5-6 seed, hopefully avoiding a 1st round exit.