With some time to reflect, I wanted to do short player profiles on every player to suit up for the Miami Heat this season.
These are primarily my season-long observations with some statistics from Basketball Reference sprinkled in. Enjoy and feel free to critique anything you may disagree with below.
The "Birdman" put together another solid season in a backup role and continued to flash the hops of a 25-year old on some of his alley-oop finishes. However, he had a slow start to the year and looked worn down before regaining his prior form in December. He shot a little better on jump shots this season (even making 4 of 13 from three), but a little worse at the rim for obvious reasons. The issue with Andersen was that his age and high-energy style of play may have taken a toll on his body. After playing 72 games last season, he was only able to play in 60 this season, and played a good many of them injured. Battling with bulkier centers has always been an issue and before the emergence of Hassan Whiteside, Birdman was in the starting lineup through the winter months once Miami finally kissed the pipe dream of small-ball goodbye (20 of his 30 career starts came this season).
When Whiteside went down with a lacerated hand in March, Birdman was also unavailable for many of the following games, leading Miami to play some ludicrously small lineups that featured Michael Beasley and Henry Walker at center. Andersen is under contract for another season, but it would behoove Miami to have an emergency backup for him if need be. Justin Hamilton was slated to be that player, but he ended up in Minnesota after the Goran Dragic trade.
Ahh, I could write a novel on the 24 games of Michael Beasley this season. I'll try to be concise. Michael Beasley was signed to a 10-day contract fresh off of a domination tour in China as Miami was starved for some offensive punch with Chris Bosh lost for the season with blood clots in his lungs. Beasley, knowing his time could be limited, played arguably the most inspiring defense of his career while on his two 10-day deals, most memorably playing center and doing an admirable job on human mecha tank DeMarcus Cousins. However, what was shocking was that Beasley's offense lagged behind and when his defensive shortcomings resurfaced, he was at times unplayable. He shot markedly worse from three (23% compared to 39% last year) and on jump shots in general (38% compared to 42% last year) though the samples are small with the short time he spent this season.
What truly blows me away about Beasley is you can absolutely see a highly skilled, unselfish passer in his floor game, but he just seems to process certain moments a tad too late, leading to ugly turnovers. His assist % was a Heat career high, but so was his turnover %. It's as if he even seems to overpass at times to show he's more than a scorer. Still, with such a sudden insertion into a team that itself had just overhauled it's core by getting Goran Dragic, it's unfair to be terribly critical of Beasley, who himself got banged up playing out of position, but we seem to always play this game of talking ourselves into and out of him over and over. If he is to return next season (he signed a two-year deal with next season being not guaranteed), a more defined role could serve him well.
An uneven, but mostly solid run as the number one option quickly took a backseat to the news that Chris Bosh's season was coming to an end. Blood clots that may have developed in his thigh from a bruise had traveled to his lungs and doctors ruled it best for him to take blood thinners and avoid on-court activity until next season. Bosh started this season playing center and was putting up gaudy totals, but his rebounding tailed off and his offensive production waxed and waned while playing with an inconsistent crop of guards as well as moving back to power forward and conceding boards to the rebounding machine that was Hassan Whiteside. Bosh's FG% plummeted in part because he was taking a career high 3.8 three pointers per game. The thing is, he shot them well! 37.5% was by far a career high. The issue was that Bosh was suddenly Miami's best three point shooter (as opposed to 4th or 5th best last season) and when he was lost, Miami could never match the long-range firepower of most NBA teams.
Bosh's formerly elite pick & roll defense and rim protection slipped noticeably this year, but getting to play his natural position with Hassan Whiteside anchoring the paint will allow him to again play to his strengths on defense without hopefully having to expend too much energy. Furthermore, having a guard like Dragic (assuming he re-signs) is a dream scenario for Bosh. Bosh should return healthy next season and I expect his efficiency to shoot upward now that he has more help at the guard spot to set him up.
Remember him? Brown was on the training camp bubble and made the opening night roster thanks to some strong preseason play. Brown played five games and started two of them before being unceremoniously cut in late November. He was brought in to back up Dwyane Wade and was a semi-productive player for the Phoenix Suns not long ago, but Miami didn't see enough from him after his brief stints of playing to hold on to him. His roster spot would of course be used to bring in Hassan Whiteside.
It seemed Chalmers drew the ire of the fanbase quite a bit this season as an elite roster wasn't there to clean up some of his mistakes. It was an uneven season from 'Rio starting with a strange and frankly, unwarranted decision by Miami to start Norris Cole (more on him later) for the first 20 or so games before giving Chalmers his old spot back. The logic was to have Chalmers play more two-guard to back up Dwyane Wade and when Wade went down early in the year, Chalmers played inspired ball through November, but followed that up with strange bouts of being completely invisible in many games during the winter months. After Miami acquired Goran Dragic, Chalmers became the true third guard, backing up both Goran and Dwyane in a role that seems perfect for him. Chalmers is at his best when attacking and his FTAr (free throw attempt rate) was a career high (.401) and his other numbers, both rate and counting stats, were par for the course.
The biggest issue with Chalmers this season was that his three point accuracy completely vanished, shooting a career low 29.4% from three. A career 36% three point shooter, Chalmers shot above 38% the prior three seasons, so the staggering drop-off was hard to stomach and one Miami couldn't afford this season. Players don't experience such drop offs unless there is injury involved (see: Landry Fields) and Chalmers was a good three point shooter even before the Big 3 era, so hopefully it's a blip that he can address in the offseason.