Sunday, November 14, 2010

Trials and Tribulations of the Super Friends

For the zillionth time, it is way too early to begin drafting epitaphs for the Miami Heat Super Friends. LeBron, D-Wade and CB4 may still end up hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy this summer or next. That said, their early troubles reinforce the conventional wisdom about basketball.

We at JPO are fond of saying that basketball is a team game. The NBA ain’t no fantasy league, son. Just because LeBron and D-Wade averaged near 30 ppg last year, that doesn’t mean they’ll net 60 together.

Here is one big problem with the Heat’s roster. It’s often said that the two most important positions on any team – and toughest to fill – are point guard and center. A skilled PG (particularly a skilled, pass-first PG) is a rare commodity. So is a skilled, traditional big man (i.e., a back-to-the basket post-up presence à la Tim Duncan; not a face-up Euro Big Man like Dirk Nowitzki or Andrea Bargnani).

The Super Friends are the Super Swingmen. None of them plays point guard or is a back-to-the-basket big man. Sure, both D-Wade and LeBron are skilled enough to play PG, but that’s not the position at which they are most skilled. Moreover, although Chris Bosh formally plays a big-man position, he is a finesse player – closer to Nowitzki than to Duncan. On a team like the Raptors, where Bosh was the main scoring threat, that’s fine. But on a team with LeBron and D-Wade, you don’t need another finesse scorer. You need a bruiser, a banger – someone to knock the ink off the other teams’ tattoos and get rebounds and cheap buckets down low. If the Super Friends are going to be more than a travelling rodeo show, they will need to either (a) trade Bosh for a premier post-up presence, or (b) go way over the salary cap to bring in an Erick Dampier-type player to spell Bosh during the 4th quarters of real games.

Both Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony have mused about playing for the Knicks. A team with ‘Melo, CP3 and Amare Stoudemire would be better than the Super Friends. I’m not talking early-season better; I mean playoff-time better. The division of labor on that team would be clear: CP3, the ball-handler; ‘Melo, the swingman; Amare, the big man.

I’m sure that Pat Riley recognizes this. What I’m not sure is whether Riles has the balls to fix it and to make this trade: Chris Bosh for Paul Millsap or Chris Bosh for Carlos Boozer. Nobody is saying that either Millsap or Boozer is more skilled than Bosh. They aren’t. But either one of them will transform the Heat from Pretender into Contender.


J-has said...

I agree with your diagnosis on Bosh as the Heat losses have come against bruisers at Center - Okafor, Big Baby Davis twice, and Jefferson.

and in a close one against the Raptors Bosh was benched in the 4th quarter in favor of Haslem.

unfortunately there is no way Jazz would trade Millsap - with a boozerless Jazz team, Millsap is proving that he is a complete player.


Bhel Atlantic said...

Signing 6'9" Joel Anthony to a five-year contract was perhaps Miami's strangest move of the summer. And then instead of signing a legitimate backup center, they nabbed 35-year-old Zydrunas Ilgauskas and 37-year-old Juwan Howard.