Who is he?
Mario Chalmers is the starting point guard of the NBA Champion Miami Heat. But it's much more complex than that.
After wrapping up an interview with HEATV China during the 2012 Heat Media Day event held the day before training camp started, Dwyane Wade was given a fortune cookie.
"When angry count to ten before you speak," read Wade. "If very angry, count to one hundred."
Wade smiled as he scanned the main floor of AmericanAirlines Arena and found Chalmers who just happened to be standing nearby. He then walked over and threw his arms around his backcourt teammate and joked he'd try to use this piece of wisdom for the next season while playing with the young man from Alaska. Chalmers couldn't help but take it, as he's done many times playing with the Big 3 and taking heaps of "advice" on the very same floor that Media Day was taking place.
The fifth-year guard from Kansas is now firmly entrenched as the starter of the Heat, a title he tenuously held the first few years since being drafted in the second round. Chalmers has the uncanny ability to cause any Heat fan (or teammate) to curse and praise his name, often during the course of a single game, quarter or even possession. It's these rare qualities that make Chalmers one of the more fascinating players of his team to watch. Will he improve on his best shooting season of his career and build on his better traits to help the Heat defend their title? Or will he regress?
What will his role be?
Most of the time it will be to simply bring the ball up the court, dribble around a bit and then eventually pass it to one of the Big 3. But that's certainly not the whole story, because last season Chalmers was two field goals shy of 500 attempts in 64 games and more than half of those were from three-point range and he nailed them almost 40% of the time. The Heat had to have been very pleased with those numbers and he'll enjoy even wider looks at the basket playing with the likes of Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Mike Miller, Shane Battier and a suddenly trigger-happy Chris Bosh beyond the arc.
Because he is a classic tweener at the guard spot, that actually plays into what the Heat have been building upon in the Big 3 era. He doesn't need to have the ball to be effective and he can pick his spots because he plays with so many talented players. Many of his teammates play multiple positions based on match ups and Chalmers' minutes and his role will fluctuate throughout the season. Even still, the Heat might be wise to retain a third point guard, ideally a proven veteran, to steady the PG position behind Chalmers and second-year player Norris Cole.
What are his strengths and weaknesses?
He won't ever be asked to do the lion's share of ball-handling, penetrating towards the rim and creating plays but it definitely wouldn't hurt to do it on a consistent basis, including building up on the unimpressive 3.5 assists per game from last season. He's always been a solid defender and can rack up steals, though that also can come at a cost because he gambles too frequently.
Such is the yin and yang of Chalmers and his game. Almost every facet of his game that can be praised always come with a caveat. He is truly a "love him or hate him" player, and certainly any Heat fan can attest to that. But none can dismiss the fact that the guy simply has ice in his veins and he is a fearless, clutch player who has proven he can step it up when it really matters. That's just what an elite team needs because those teams play in the biggest moments on the biggest stage.
Chalmers will lead the team in game-winning shots in the regular season and postseason.