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What a healthy Josh McRoberts means for the Miami Heat

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Solving the injury puzzle for McRoberts could pay off big time for Miami.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Josh McRoberts, a.k.a. Josh McGlass, provides depth for the Miami Heat, which could put them over the top to become credible contenders for a deep Eastern Conference appearance. The burden lies on McRoberts to overcome his injury-prone history, much like Stephen Curry worked relentlessly to solve his almost career-ending problem of having glass ankles.

At 6'10” tall, McRoberts’ physical tools allow him to make his presence felt on the court, when he’s in beast mode. With him already locked into a meager $6 million contract this season, the Heat would have 48 minutes of pressure at the forward position, if they can retain the services of James Johnson, and McRoberts stays healthy for the entire season.

Golden State Warriors schooled the Cleveland Cavaliers on the importance of remaining fresh in their game three win. That lesson hasn’t been lost on the other NBA teams.

McRoberts played only 17, 42, 22 games respectively, in his last three seasons, so he doesn't have much mileage on his body lately. Pat Riley, who knows a thing or two about talented big men, saw enough potential in McRoberts to sign him to a 4 year / $22,652,350 contract. So far the deal hasn’t looked good, but there’s hope to witness highlights like these again.

Now McBob needs to work the hardest he can to figure out the puzzle to his body, and vindicate Riley’s faith in him. The task of reshaping his body to less fragile condition is on Josh, so he shows the world the competitive nature all champions have burns deep within his very nature.

He and Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson are all locked under contract to remain in Miami this season. Along with J. Johnson, the Heat potentially have quality frontcourt players this season: not All-Stars, but along with Hassan Whiteside, enough talent to wear teams out over 48 minutes. What they could do, when at full strength, presents a depth few teams have. McRoberts has a key part in that formula, as he exhibited his skills versus the Heat while on the Charlotte team.

Can Justise fix his shot, can McRoberts stay healthy, can Richardson regain his late-season form for an entire season? If the answers to ALL those questions are yes, the Heat have the makings, along with the Goran Dragic / Dion Waiters tandem in the backcourt, to become a top Eastern Conference team in 2017-18.

Miami will have the dilemma of finding minutes for last season’s essential contributors Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder, Luke Babbitt, Willie Reed (?), Okaro White (?). Their contributions over the 30-11 run of the season shouldn’t be minimized or overlooked today. Really hard to gauge what their toughness bought to the team. Add to that conundrum, allocating minutes for the 2017 first-round draft pick.

Pat Riley has a soft spot for tall, athletic point guards/forwards, such as “Magic” Johnson, back from his days as the head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers. Nobody on the Heat can match the unique skill set of that Johnson, but here is a video of what an impressible, young Riley saw on the court during the heyday of the “Showtime Lakers.”

The above analysis illustrates what Riley expects from his players, and why he favors teams built on the profile of that squad, i.e. tall point guard/forward. After a disappointing three seasons, can McRoberts justify Riley’s gamble on him? Often demeaned and made fun of, Josh mission is to figure how to tame the ills affecting his body, and surprise his critics by displaying what Riley originally saw in him.