A Motherboard.com article pointed out reflexes are one of the first things to decline at an early age, with this sobering quote: "At the Red Bull Battlegrounds tournament in New York, I met a player, Golden, who was retiring at the ripe old age of 19. The most successful non-Korean player, Stephano, retired last year at 20."
The reason comes from researchers in British Colombia illustrating their finding of professional Star Craft 2 players with this dramatic chart showing reaction times at all skill categories slow down after 24:
With the Miami Heat's best player Dwyane Wade at 33 years old, their max player Chris Bosh recovering from a serious illness at 31, starting forward Luol Deng at 30, key point guard Goran Dragic at 29, and center Hassan Whiteside at 26, the roster playing style needs to adapt to winning with their brains and skills instead of quickness.
Rotation players Mario Chalmers and Gerald Green are already working on improving their skill levels for the upcoming season.
VegasInsider gives Miami Heat 18/1 odds to win the Eastern Conference, which is within a top four seeding in the conference.
However PointAfter predicts the Heat to have a 41-win season and finish 8th. The author Will Laws explains the reasoning in his insightful article that serves as a reality check for Heat fans. He backs up his claims by pointing out, "A team's collective Win Shares doesn't always exactly add up to its actual win total, but it's usually quite close—since the 1962-63 season, the average margin of error is 2.74 wins."
The general consensus is NBA players reach physical peak years about at about 25 with a gradual decline until age 30, when deterioration becomes noticeable, as this study at datatante shows. With most of the Heat starting five being 29 or above and key rotation players also over 30, how should the coaching staff approach the situation of winning when most players are slowly aging?
Quickness may decline first, but strength, power and skill develop later and last throughout the 20's and even the 30's. Emphasizing the part of the game that develops last (e.g. shooting efficiency, skill development, and teamwork), the team can use these strengths to remain championship contenders while players are in their thirties and still productive, much like the San Antonio Spurs have managed to do with aging stars including Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. This season, game plans which minimize a player's unavoidable physical decline can take advantage of the knowledge and experience of the over-30 players.
The Miami Heat have Tyler Johnson (23), Josh Richardson (22), Greg Whittington (22), Corey Hawkins (24), James Ennis (25) who are players that are still have peak reflexes. Richardson has a guaranteed contract, while the others who survive the final roster cut or are called up later, could be the future roadrunners of the team.
Justise Winslow at 19 has not yet completely developed full strength in his bone structure, tendons and ligaments to withstand the punishment of the NBA grind. In addition during his one-and-done season at Duke, he competed mostly against other freshmen with limited basketball skills. The NBA is a new whole world where he will be exposed to ten-year veterans whom he never faced in college. Some top college drafts picks fail when they have their weaknesses exposed competing against experienced competition. Winslow will require a couple of years to strength his bone structure and learn how play against guys other than teenagers.
The Heat's fortunes depend on adapting to a world where Wade and Bosh's bodies are five years older than 2010 and playing five starters with limited experience together. The fortunate part is Dragic, Gerald Green and Amar'e Stoudemire could start some games together because they already know the Phoenix Suns system and rising from the ashes once again.
By using the full 13 people dressed for a game, coach Erik Spoelstra might use the surprise factor to the Heat's advantage, like Steve Kerr did the last season's finals. Spoelstra could zig when the other team zags by fielding a team the other team is not prepared for. That happened with Whiteside because the opponent had no game plans for him. With such a depth squad, Spoelstra could field rotations that catch the opponents without an answer.