Blazersedge 2008-09 NBA Season Preview: Heat and Bobcats

We move on today to the Southeast Division.

 

MIAMI HEAT

Record:  15-67, 5th in Southeast Division, 15th in Eastern Conference (last in NBA)

 

Statistical Comparisons

 

Notable:

30th in the league in scoring (91.4 ppg)

29th  in ppg differential (-8.6 ppg)

 

Others:

14th in opponent scoring (100.0 ppg)

25th in field goal % 

25th in opponent field goal %

15th in three-point % 

23rd in free throw attempts per game

24th in free throw percentage

24th in assists

16th in steals

22nd (tie) in blocks

19th in turnovers

20th in opponent turnovers

Horrible offensive rebounding team

Very Poor defensive rebounding team

 

Movement

 

Significant Additions:  Michael Beasley (R), James Jones, Yakhouba Diawara, Jamaal Magloire, Mario Chalmers (R)

Significant Subtractions:  Ricky Davis, Jason Williams, Bobby Jones

 

Roster

 

Coach:  Erik Spoelstra

 

Key Players

PG:  Marcus Banks, Mario Chalmers

SG: Dwyane Wade, Daequan Cook, Yakhouba Diawara

SF:  Shawn Marion, James Jones

PF:  Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem

C:  Mark Blount, Jamaal Magloire

 

Comments

 

Last year at this time most everybody was counting the Heat out.  “Don’t give up on them entirely,” I said.  “Don’t underestimate the desire of a team that’s won a championship and then faltered,” I said.  “Shaq could have one more year left in him,” I said.  That was before we found out half the team had overeaten all summer and the other half would spend all season crapping all over the floor.  Dwyane Wade is a great player, but he couldn’t revive the Heat’s season even when he was on the floor, let alone the 31 games he was injured.  Way to make me look good, Miami.  Then again Miami didn’t make anybody look good last year.  Well, except their opponents, that is.

 

This year everybody’s high off of the D. Wade Olympics buzz and predicting the Heat are back.  Back to what, I wonder.  On paper they look like they have some talent.  Shawn Marion is a fine athlete.  Michael Beasley is said to be the most NBA-ready player from this year’s draft.  Along with Wade they should make a formidable scoring threat.  But it feels like a weird fit, as if Miami is just throwing more scorers at the problem…a classic way to go down in flames in the NBA.  (Though there’s not much more “down” for Miami to explore.)  Mark Blount is also a scorer, by the way, and Marcus Banks would like to be.  Furthermore, while the Heat definitely did themselves a favor by getting rid of chronic Froot Loop Ricky Davis, they have a bunch of players who, for whatever reason, have not fit in smoothly with prior teams.  These would include…hmmm…every name we’ve mentioned so far except for Wade.  James Jones should be a nice fit and Yakhouba Diawara was not a bad pick-up, but they’re not the kind of players to turn a team around.

 

Miami’s huge difficulty last year was offensive production.  A big part of the problem was chemistry and continuity.  Rookie coach Erik Spoelstra is going to have to come up with a system that lets these players play nice and then hope he can convince them to accept it.  Sharing was not a strong point last year.  Neither was percentage shooting, free throw shooting, or anything that would indicate that there are extra points to be had beyond what the Big Three can score with brute force talent.  Miami’s rebounding was pitiful last year and I don’t see anybody on this roster who will change that immediately.  That will cut down on the number of easy buckets they can get.  Their defense was poor also.

 

With the addition of Beasley, Wade healthy, and at least a couple former players now causing headaches for other teams Miami should be able to win more than 15 this year.  There’s not much reason to forecast an amazing leap forward, though.  The storylines in Miami will not be about playoff chases but about Wade’s stamina, Beasley’s attitude and adaptation, and whether Shawn Marion fits this team’s future well enough to bother retaining him.

 

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS

Record:  32-50, 4th in Southeast Division, 12th in Eastern Conference

 

Statistical Comparisons

 

Notable:

29th in free throw percentage

 

Others:

19th in the league in scoring (97.1 ppg)

20th in opponent scoring (101.4 ppg)

22nd  in ppg differential (-4.4 ppg)

17th in field goal % 

22nd in opponent field goal %

12th in three-point % 

11th in free throw attempts per game

16th (tie) in assists

13th in steals

10th in blocks

16th in turnovers

22nd in opponent turnovers

Poor offensive rebounding team

Very Poor defensive rebounding team

 

Movement

 

Significant Additions:  D.J. Augustin (R), Shannon Brown, Alexis Ajinca (R)

Significant Subtractions:  Earl Boykins

 

Roster

 

Coach:  Larry Brown (don’t blink)

 

Key Players

PG:  Raymond Felton, D.J. Augustin

SG:  Jason Richardson, Matt Carroll

SF:  Gerald Wallace, Jared Dudley, Adam Morrison

PF:  Emeka Okafor, Sean May,

C:   Nazr Mohammed, Ryan Hollins, Alexis Ajinca

 

Comments

 

The Bobcats have an interesting roster.  Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson make for one of the more athletic wing combos in the league, even with Richardson playing slower than he did when he was younger.  You don’t see a 20 ppg pair at shooting guard and small forward that often.  Raymond Felton can also score and he racks up dimes like a retro pay phone.  This frees up the frontcourt to concentrate on defense and rebounding.  Emeka Okafor is one of the best in those areas…another scary dude.  So why doesn’t this work better?  It’s like artichokes, orange juice, twinkies, and pork chops in the same pot.  They’re all great tastes, but they don’t necessarily go together.  Their defense is uncoordinated, their rebounding shoddy, and they have trouble creating points and opportunities for anybody besides those wings.  In short they struggle with anything requiring actual teamwork.  Make the game easy on them and they’ll run all over you.  Make the game difficult and they can’t pull it together.

 

Michael Jordan’s instincts seemed right on this off-season.  They needed another point guard with starting potential in case the Raymond Felton experiment comes to an end.  D.J. Augustin could develop into the Felton mold of scoring/passing.  Alexis Ajinca is nobody’s banger, but he doesn’t have to be with Okafor on the roster.  He can use his seven-foot frame for finishing and work the mid-range game otherwise, letting Okafor have the block.  The problem is, neither of these players is likely to blossom fully this year.  Also neither helps with defense and rebounding.  Okafor can’t hold the fort alone.  The Bobcats weren’t able to acquire significant veterans.  You’d almost wish James Jones ended up here instead of Miami.

 

If Larry Brown has one more great coaching run in him then perhaps he can pull these guys together and maximize their talent.  If Larry Brown throws up his hands after a month and a half and quits this team is going to fall to pieces.  Either way, it’s hard to see them moving up the standings chart immediately.  They’ll remain a team nobody likes to see, but a team most other teams expect to beat.

 

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

 

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