They often say don’t believe everything you hear, but if you have been listening lately, you would’ve heard Mario Chalmers make the claim that he is a top 10 point guard in the NBA.
Agree or not, if that’s the case, then Chalmers has a lot to prove this season for the Miami Heat if he wants to join the elite ranks with the likes of Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Rajon Rondo. Going into his fifth season, some say this is a make-or-break year for Chalmers.
After years of substantial play, many would say that Chalmers is an average point guard on an elite team, that so happened to win the NBA championship this past season. Coming out of Kansas University, Chalmers has always been accustomed to the shine in big games.
It was Chalmers who hit the game tying three pointer to put Kansas in overtime where they defeated Derrick Rose and the Memphis Tigers in the NCAA national championship in 2008. In Miami, Chalmers has not backed down from the big games, including his big game 4 in the NBA Finals, where he scored 25 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter to propel the Heat.
Coming off an NBA championship and all, Chalmers is seen as a great defender who is an exceptional three point shooter (35% career), but lacks the ability of an elite point guard. In fact, Chalmers was pushed throughout the season by former rookie Norris Cole, to the point where the Heat questioned Chalmers as a starter.
Thanks to the competition, and Cole hitting a rookie wall late in the season, Chalmers picked up his play along with the rest of his teammates all the way to the Finals. Despite that most would agree it won’t be smooth sailing for Chalmers this season.
Known as a scrappy player on the court, Chalmers is also known as a “smack talker” who won’t back down from anybody. While it’s good to always have a player or two that are rough around the edges on your team, Chalmers mouth calls for a lot of backing up to do this season.
In an interview with Bleacher Report recently, Chalmers denied the notion that Rondo was the “best point guard in the NBA” and threw himself into the elite conversation saying,” He’s not the best, but he’s in the top five,” and when he said quote, “I am in the front end of the top 10″.
While all the great point guards in the NBA can both score and dish with the best of them, Chalmers is not great at either (8.3 PPG, 3.8 APG career). While it’s hard to judge Chalmers on the point guard level ,with stars like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade used as the primary scorers and set-up men, many will agree that Chalmers has a lot to do get on the level with the Paul’s and William’s of the NBA.
With James playing a lot of the four position this season, and Shane Battier at the three, Chalmers, will have a chance to improve upon his assist totals while having more room to get to the basket like he did so frequently in the NBA Finals, possibly making him and the Heat even more lethal.
Look for Chalmers to come into this season with the mindset that he is more than just a spot-up shooter and someone who can orchestrate an offense with the likes of James, Wade, Bosh, and now Ray Allen and make a stamp not only on his teammates, but the NBA, in that he is no longer the weak link of the Heat starting lineup.