Miami Heat Bubble Players: The Good, Bad, And Their Chances at The Roster
The Good, The Bad, And Their Chances: Miami Heat Bubble Payers
It’s that time of year again.
The march to the 2012-13 NBA season starts for the Miami Heat as their training camp gets underway today. It’s the second camp in franchise history that Miami goes into as defending champions and the first one of that kind in the ‘Big 3’ era of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
The Heat are heading into camp with their core unit that won the NBA title last season intact. However, unlike the last time Miami came in as defending champions in the 2006-07 season with that entire team back, team president Pat Riley added some new blood. In the off season the Heat signed Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to add more perimeter threats.
In total 12 of the 15 players that were on the Heat roster from last season’s title team are coming back into training camp. Ronny Turiaf chose to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers in the off season. Juwan Howard and Eddy Curry remain unsigned.
Miami has a 20 man roster coming into camp. The additions of Allen and Lewis to the team have left few spots to fill and almost half of that roster vying to get those spots. That means that there are many players the Heat have who are on the bubble.
The Heat ‘bubble players’ consist of Rodney Carney, Robert Dozier, Mickell Gladness, Josh Harrellson, Terrel Harris, Dexter Pittman, Garrett Temple, and Jarvis Varnado.
Here is a look at the good (skills and advantages,) the bad (deficiencies and disadvantages,) and the chances that each bubble player has at making Miami’s 15 man roster to start the season.
There is also a look into two dark horse candidates not currently signed with the Heat in Howard and Raja Bell.
The Good: Carney has shown flashes of improvement in his college career that had the Chicago Bulls pick him 16th overall in the 2006 NBA Draft before they traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers. He gained starter experience with Philadelphia in his rookie season. He is known to be a decent defender, a trait that is valued on the Heat.
The Bad: The improvements that Carney has shown college haven’t translated to the pros. This has turned him into a veteran journeyman playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, and Memphis Grizzlies along with his two stints with the 76ers. The fact the he played last season in China also limited his exposure to NBA teams given the signing restrictions in that country.
Chance at Making the Roster: Given that he was signed by Miami almost right before camp started, there is an almost nonexistent shot that Carney has at making the final roster. More likely this will be a showcase for him to get other teams to take a chance with him.
The Good: Dozier was drafted by the Heat as a senior in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft before being stashed overseas. He’s played well enough during that time to have Miami keep retaining his NBA rights. He rebounds well and can be a shot blocker along with being a perimeter threat. He showcased some of these skills in the Summer League this year.
The Bad: Injuries limited Dozier’s playing time in the Summer League. He may also have become collateral damage of the 2011 NBA lockout since it erased that year’s Summer League. This leaves little room for evaluating his play by NBA standards.
Chance at Making the Roster: This is Dozier’s first time in the NBA since he was drafted. The fact the Miami drafted him gives him a little hope at making the roster, but it’s highly improbable. This camp will likely be a learning experience for Dozier before the Heat stash him back overseas.
The Good: Gladness was one of the surprise players that made Miami’s roster last season (the other one being Harris.) That means he already knows the system of head coach Erik Spoelstra and what can be expected of him. He is mainly an energy player that can play defense near the rim.
The Bad: One thing that Gladness lacks in an offensive game. Given this and what he excels at and Gladness can be summarized as simply a taller version of Joel Anthony. That was enough for the Heat to cut him in the middle of the season to make room for Turiaf. Miami’s apparent decision to make Bosh a center also hurts him as that is Gladness’ natural position.
Chance at Making the Roster: There is enough that the Heat see in Gladness to warrant them giving him another shot. He has a small shot at making the roster, but with Bosh now at the five that chance may have shrunk unless Gladness learns a new position. If last season is any indication, don’t count him out.
The Good: Harrellson was one of the players that Miami worked out in their search of a big man after he was cut by the Houston Rockets. He has impressed the Heat enough to give him a shot. One reason for this is that he already has an advantage over the other centers on Miami’s roster aside from Bosh. That advantage is his long range shooting, particularly from beyond the arc. That ability can pay dividends in the Heat’s system.
The Bad: While having an offense, Harrellson hasn’t played enough to show what his defensive skills are, even though he did start four times as a rookie for the New York Knicks last season. In many ways he is still considered a project at center and the Heat already have one of those in Pittman.
Chance at Making the Roster: Harrellson’s long range shooting could be a good asset given Miami’s playing style. However his defense will be the key factor in evaluating him during camp. He has a decent shot at the roster, but he will have to truly excel to get that spot, and to even possibly change Miami’s mind about how to use Bosh.
The Good: Harris was the other surprise addition to the Heat roster last season. While he didn’t play much he showed that he can score and defend when he did play. His best game was against the Atlanta Hawks when he scored 14 points and nine rebounds. He impressed the Heat enough to keep him in the roster for the full season. He was also the stand out player for Miami during the Summer League this year.
The Bad: The strikes that Harris has against him are not of his own making. The addition of Allen took away the possibility of him being groomed to be Wade’s primary backup this season. Another blow to him was the focus Miami had of fortifying their front line in the off season.
Chance at Making the Roster: Harris is in a perplexing situation with the Heat. He has a well-rounded game that could be used on the team but possibly not have the opportunity to do so. Given that Miami put major focus on him in the Summer League he has a semi decent chance at making the roster, even if the deck is stacked against him.
The Good: Pittman was regarded as the Heat’s future at center when he was picked in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft. He has shown flashes of being a decent rebounder and scorer when he has been on the floor. He has also been good at trying to meet the team’s goals for his conditioning. He has lost weight throughout his time in Miami.
The Bad: Pittman was always considered a project, and his overall development has been slow to say the least. He is still very raw on the defensive end where he easily gets fouls called against him. As far as offense goes he hasn’t shown enough consistency to be considered a real threat to opposing teams. That has prevented him from even being considered to be included in the regular rotation
Chances at Making the Roster: This is Pittman’s third season with the Heat. Given the time he has already spent with the team Pittman has the best shot among the bubble players to make the roster. However, he has to show and prove to the Miami coaching staff and front office that the investment they have placed on him has been worth it.
The Good: Temple has been a decent player since coming out of college. He has shown flashes of being a scoring threat when given a chance. One of his best games came as a member of the Charlotte Bobcats against the Heat in April of 2011 where he scored 17 points.
The Bad: As good as Temple has shown he could be, he hasn’t played a full season with just one team. In fact, if one adds Miami to the list Temple has played for six NBA teams in his two year career. Most of those tenures have been under 10 day contracts.
Chances of Making the Roster: Temple is a decent player to have on a team. He was a very slim shot at making the roster given the makeup of established Heat players. Much like Carney, this is mainly a showcase for him while other teams watch.
The Good: Varnado was drafted by the Heat in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft and was stashed overseas. Even though he was stashed Varnado participated in every Summer League available for Miami (with the exception of 2011 due to the lockout.) He’s shown a willingness to play center in overseas play. His trademark shot blocking was evident as he averaged over three blocked shots his last season in Italy.
The Bad: Like Dozier, Varnado was limited in this year’s Summer League due to injury. That means it’s unknown how much his skill are ready for the NBA stage. The Heat moving Bosh to center also affects him as he has stated he wanted to play the position in the NBA. He is also starting camp with a strained hamstring.
Chances at Making the Roster: Varnado is an interesting case for Miami as they have kept a close eye on him since he was drafted. He was invited to camp last season but most likely wasn’t able to show off what he can do due to its’ shortness. While Bosh being at center limits Varnado’s ability to land a roster spot it may also open a path to the roster by being a power forward, his natural position. If there is a dark horse among the bubble players, it would be Varnado.
Dark Horse: Juwan Howard
The Good: What Howard brings to the table mainly is his veteran leadership off the bench. He has been with the Heat the last two seasons and that leadership has been touted throughout his tenure. Howard also brings an old-school edge in his play as he has sometimes taken on the role of enforcer when he is on the floor.
The Bad: Howard is an 18 year NBA veteran. While he has great intangibles he may not be a good fit given that Spoelstra has expressed a desire to play even faster this season.
Chances at Making the Roster: The main reasons that Howard has a shot at making the roster is the he hasn’t retired yet and the Heat have stated that they haven’t closed the door on the prospect of him returning. Since the roster is already full someone would have to be immediately cut should Howard decide to come back. While being a great bench presence Howard might be best suited not playing and working in some capacity in the Heat organization
Dark Horse: Raja Bell
The Good: Bell offers a skill set that would be welcome in Miami. He is a decent defender and a perimeter threat with a .406 shooting average from beyond the arc. Both he and the Heat have expressed mutual interest in the past. Bell is also a hometown kid having played at Miami Killian High School and Florida International University.
The Bad: What people have not liked most about Bell in the NBA is his attitude. He has made more enemies than friends in his career and that may have cost him some opportunities before. The most recent example is as a member of the Utah Jazz where he publically feuded with head coach Tyrone Corbin about his playing time. The situation has reached a stalemate as the Jazz issued a press release yesterday stating that Bell was not welcome to training camp as both sides negotiate a buyout of his contract.
Chances at Making the Roster: Should Bell pursue an opportunity with Miami after his contract in Utah is bought out, the team will have to cut someone immediately to make room for him. While a defender who can shoot from the perimeter would be welcome on the Heat, Bell may be stopped due to the depth Miami has at the guard position. He would have a fair shot at the roster depending on how long his stalemate with the Jazz lasts.