Something that has been getting a decent amount of attention lately is the center situation in Miami. There are a lot of people out there who feel like the Heat are undersized and need to bring in another body to play in the paint. I understand that Joel Anthony isn't the biggest guy but I still think that he can do a perfectly fine job playing center for the Heat.
Anthony is ‘only' 6'9" but that hasn't stopped him from putting up some amazing blocks per minute stats and providing a defensive boost whenever he's on the court. I am also very enthused by the fact that Joel has improved considerably every season of his career, and there is no reason to think he wont continue down that path this year.
I think that he is going to have a breakout year this season, for several reasons. The increase in playing time will obviously provide a boost to his numbers, and all the nationally televised games combined with tons of attention the Heat will be getting will certainly help Joel get some exposure.
Next to Anthony is newcomer Zydrunas Ilgauskas. I think he'll end up playing backup to Joel, which will be mutually beneficial to both. Keeping Big Z fresh throughout the season will be clutch when the playoffs roll around and the Heat have to deal with guys like Dwight Howard and Boston's O'Neal twins.
There is also going to be some kind of good center coming out of the Western Conference assuming the Heat get all the way to the Finals. Whether its Andrew Bynum, Tim Duncan, Brendan Haywood...someone very solid will be waiting for the Heat in June.
Zydrunas is a big dude, listed at 7'3" 260lbs. This guy was the starting center in Cleveland for a decade, always giving a full effort and leaving it all on the court. He rebounds very well and has averaged over a block/game every year before last season when his minutes dropped by almost 10.
Big Z is a career 47.5% shooter from the field with many of his shots coming from outside the paint. His perimeter shooting is something he's worked on a lot over the past few years, and in the last two seasons has added the 3-pointer to his shooting repertoire. After taking 7 or less treys in each of the first 10 years of his career, he has gone 26-for-62 (42%) in the last two years.
Despite Joel and Zydrunas, some people think that the Heat needs another big body down there. A name that has been thrown around a lot both on this blog as well as among members of the media is Kwame Brown. Brown is 6'11" 270lbs. He's a league veteran who had his best years with the Wizards and Lakers, but since leaving L.A. in 2008 his game has struggled.
Over the last three seasons playing for Memphis and Detroit, Brown has played about 15 minutes a game, scoring 3.6 points on 51.8% shooting while grabbing 4.1 rebounds. If he joined the Heat, would they put him in a position to play ahead of Joel Anthony or Zydrunas Ilgauskas? I doubt it. There is no way he would play more then 15 minutes a game; it would probably closer to 10 or less.
So why would the Heat bring in someone who is strikingly similar in both size and style to Jamaal Magloire? Both guys had some very good seasons, none closer then 2007 though. Both have seen their production and numbers decline but still provide their teams with solid bench play, in many ways exceeding what is expected from the usual 2nd or 3rd string center.
I understand that looking at our roster, the center position is the one that could be picked out as needing an upgrade the most. That still doesn't mean we need that upgrade, I just think it's a case of people seeing names like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James next to Joel Anthony and Mario Chalmers' on the roster and thinking we need guys who are as big of names as our ‘Big 3'.
I don't think the Heat will be adding any more players before training camp because the roster looks pretty damn good. The players who some feel need to be replaced with better guys (Joel, Chalmers, Magloire, Arroyo...centers and PG's) have all been with this team for a while, so the coaching staff knows exactly what they are getting.
I expect Joel to show nice improvements on offense while his D will speak for itself. I would like to expect a similar improvement from Mario Chalmers, but for now I'm just hoping that the kid will play with some confidence and maybe even a little swagger. Get his mind off of ‘not messing up' and just have fun with the guys around him.
With Magloire and Arroyo you know exactly what your getting, and while I think Arroyo will get a bit more playing time...Magloire is one of the most important guys on this team. It isn't what you see on the court, but on the bench and in the locker room is where the Big Cat's value lies.
Since joining the Heat back in 2008, Magloire has provided the team with a veteran's leadership and priceless experience and advice. Those people saying the Heat need ‘size' and ‘bulk' must not know Jamaal very well. If there is ever a time where things get chippy out there, Magloire is the guy to send on the floor.
He's more then happy to mix it up and defend his teammates, something that may be an issue with all the Heat-hate out there. That's just part of what Magloire does for his team. He is a big, positive presence in the locker room and is a vocal leader on this team.
The roster we have right now should be more then enough to dominate the league. If you have reached the point where you don't feel comfortable with what the Heat has to offer, stop reading this right now and just go look at their roster. Look at the names, the stats, the depth...and if you still feel like the Heat need to do more then I don't know what to tell you.
The only move I can see the team making at some point this season would be to bring in a perimeter ‘shut down' defender. That's where a Matt Barnes or even a Raja Bell would've been a great fit. Still, the Heat are going to score a ton of points so this could end up being a non-issue but it's the only real need I could see the team having this season. Otherwise, I think they are in good shape.