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How a point forward would help optimize the Heat's offense

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Should the Heat look to incorporate a point forward to help run the offense?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Erik Spoelstra's system with the Miami Heat works best with a point forward such as LeBron James. Of course, having arguably the greatest ever in the NBA playing that role on your team helps, but finding a player with a similar mindset would help open up the Heat's offense in several dynamic ways.

Coined in the 1980's, notable point forwards in the NBA have included Larry Bird, Tracy McGradyHedo Turkoglu,Scottie Pippen, Anthony Mason, Lamar OdomGrant Hill, and Magic Johnson (after he came out of retirement and returned to play for the Lakers).

Oddly despite being a generational player, LeBron James won his only two championships with Spoelstra as his team's coach. They had a common successful vision on the team's playing style (without question Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had a major part in that success). Tom Thibodeau's teams were defensive-minded, while Mike D'Antoni's system was a run-and-gun one. Earlier Don Nelson introduced Nellie Ball, which was one of the first versions of small-ball basketball. None of the latter coaches' teams survived the playoffs to win a championship though, since they were flawed by being too one-dimensional.

With the philosophy of using what actually works to win championships in the real world, Erik Spoelstra's coaching system would have Josh McRoberts fill the role of a point forward for the coming Miami Heat season. Down the road Justise Winslow, with his strong build, could evolve into one if he elevates his ball distribution abilities. Traditionally point guards such as Goran Dragic handle the ball, but Spoelstra's unique coaching style may be more suited to a forward share the responsibilities in dishing out assists. Ideally both would work in tandem to keep the ball moving from anywhere on the court.

The Heat's incumbent small forward, Luol Deng, is mainly a cutter and the Heat have struggled when their small forward lacks the skills to be a facilitator. The primary reason James Ennis has not fulfilled his outstanding potential is due to issues with his ball control. He dished out some outstanding assists during his rookie season, but lacks the dribbling skills to reliably bring the ball up the court.

LeBron James was a point forward out of necessity in Miami, but now the Heat have a true point guard in Goran Dragic. Having two play-makers on the team would make the team even more deadly, as the opposition could not focus on trapping only one of them. The point forward would take over the responsibilities for running the offense when Dragic gets his needed break to keep the risk of injury at a minimum.

Rookie Josh Richardson has the talent and build to become a point forward, since he played forward and point guard at Tennessee. Michael Beasley had enormous skills as a scorer, but lacked the court vision to create shots for his teammates. Winslow may be able to accomplish what Beasley couldn't: become a point forward. As he goes through his rookie season handling the ball and making plays for others, how he succeeds or fails will be something to keep an eye on.

However enticing the prospect of Kevin Durant wearing a Miami Heat uniform is, the question remains about what his role would be with the Heat. Remember, he has never played on a team without Russell Westbrook, which begs the question: How important was Westbrook to Durant's success? Durant may have strong personal bonds with Westbrook and maybe even Serge Ibaka, that could influence his free agency decision.

Durant is primarily a shooting forward, but the Heat style of play potentially may be better off with a point forward who can also be a play-maker par excellence. Perhaps a more realistic target, and one that would be a better fit on the team, may be out there among next summer's intriguing free agent market.