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News » Miami Heat Getting Inside 2009-10-16

Miami Heat Getting Inside 2009-10-16

Miami Heat Getting Inside 2009-10-16The party line remains that the Heat will take its next step through internal improvement. Considering its only offseason additions of note were journeymen Quentin Richardson and Carlos Arroyo, it's not as if there is any other choice.

The key to the mix remains Dwyane Wade's ability to again stand as one of the league's dominant scorers. Considering Wade is at the same age when Michael Jordan was at his championship prime, Wade said there is no reason to believe he can't approach last season's league-leading scoring average.

Wade again spent this past summer working under noted Chicago trainer Tim Grover and insists he is beyond his injury history.

If Wade is the focus because of what he already has achieved, then Michael Beasley is the focus because of want went unaccomplished during his rookie season.

After going No. 2 in the 2008 draft, Beasley was unable to hold his position in the starting lineup and, by season's end, barely was playing half a game as the Heat's reserve power forward.

The goal this season is to get Beasley back in the starting lineup, although that could just as easily come at small forward as power forward. His performances at small forward have been uneven, but it does allow second-year coach Erik Spoelstra to also get Udonis Haslem on the court.

By contrast, while the Heat's other 2008 draft pick, second-rounder Mario Chalmers, started all 82 games last season at point guard, he basically won that position by default.

This season, there at least will be a challenge from Arroyo, who was added midway through training camp when it became apparent that the team likely would need more than just Chris Quinn behind Chalmers.

As far as the ultimate question mark, that would be center Jermaine O'Neal, who has looked like anything but his former All-Star self over the past two seasons. While O'Neal just recently turned 31, he already is in his 14th NBA season and that wear is beginning to show.

The Heat needs O'Neal not only to provide enough of a post presence to create double teams, but also to provide shot blocking, considering the limitations of the Heat's perimeter defenders.

This is not a team with a lot of quality depth, and with the focus on 2010 free agency, it is not a team that's going to spend to bolster the roster.

In the end, if Wade is not at the top of his game, if Beasley doesn't live up to his lottery potential, if Chalmers doesn't take the next step, and if O'Neal is just old instead of his old self, marching last season's 43-39 finish and No. 5 playoff seed in the East could be a stretch.

COACHING STAFF: Head Coach -- Erik Spoelstra, 2nd year overall, 2nd with Heat (43-39). Assistants -- Ron Rothstein, Bob McAdoo, David Fizdale, Keith Askins, Chad Kammerer.

LAST SEASON, REMEMBERED: 43-39 (3rd in Southeast), lost 4-3 in first round of playoffs to Hawks.

THIS SEASON, PREDICTED: 41-41, 4th in Southeast, again losing in first round of the playoffs.

POSSIBLE CHANGES, PREDICTED: The Heat is flush with expiring contracts, from the $23 million due Jermaine O'Neal to the $8.7 million due Quentin Richardson to the $7.1 million due Udonis Haslem. That could have Heat President Pat Riley in the thick of it at the trading deadline, especially if potential 2010 free-agent targets such as Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire come available in February. Otherwise, don't expect the Heat to add much in the way of salary that extends beyond this season.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 16, 2009


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