5 Up-and-Coming Stars for the Miami Heat
5 Up-and-Coming Stars for the Miami Heat
The Miami Heat completed the perfect end to a perfect season by winning their second consecutive NBA championship this past June. They reached the Finals three years in a row and came away with two rings, not a bad few years for the boys from South Beach. Most people attribute all the credit to the "Big Three" of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, but it's the players who went most unrecognized who have made major contributions to Miami's most recent dynasty run.
There players have not yet had the opportunity to share their talents with the world and help the Heat reach the Finals for a fourth consecutive season. With the help of these young stars, players like Ray Allen (age 37), Shane Battier (age 34) and Juwan Howard (age 40) will have the opportunity to spend more time on the bench resting their weathered limbs and allow these spirited young athletes of the future to come in and bring some energy to the court.
With injuries becoming more frequent as the physicality of the game has increased immensely, the younger players can take some of the weight off the shoulders of these older players by taking on that physical play and taking advantage of their young, limber and able bodies. There are five players specifically who have shown that experience isn't everything and that there's a new crop of young superstars who are a force to be reckoned with in the future.
No. 5 James Ennis
The Heat's most recent acquisition is a player by the name of James Ennis. He played his college ball at Long Beach State and hails from the city of Ventura, CA. Ennis led his team with 16.5 points per game and was first in free throw percentage and second in three-point percentage. James will play a key role in the 2014 season because of his ability to both get to the rim and shoot the outside jumper. When LeBron James needs a rest, Erik Spoelstra will be looking past James Jones and Shane Battier to the fresh face of Ennis.
No. 4 Jarvis Varnado
Although very little is known about this 6-foot-9 power forward out of Mississippi State University, Jarvis Varnado dominated his opponents in college with his power and endurance, which is a precursor to how he will play in the NBA. His dominance on the boards is something that the Heat have been lacking, and with his size and strength, I have no doubt that he will only continue to get better. And even though he played very minimal minutes this past season, when he gets the opportunity to play, he's gonna turn some heads.
No. 3 Norris Cole
At 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, Norris Cole is not much to look at. But this little guy has an incredible amount of fight in him. Breaking into double-digits on 12 different occasions throughout this season and averaging almost 20 minutes a game, Cole has really improved his game in his second year with the Heat. His true talent was put on display in Games 2 and 3 of this year's series with the Chicago Bulls when he put together back-to-back 18 point games and shot 100 percent from behind the arc. Even more impressive is the fact that Norris shot an astounding 53.1 percent from three in the playoffs, almost 20 percent better than his season average showing that he rises to the occasion. He also played in all but two of the Heat's playoff games, giving him an immense amount of experience for a player his age. Watch out for the mighty Cole in 2014.
No. 2 Chris "Birdman" Andersen
Probably known now as one of the most eccentric players in the league, Chris "The Birdman" Andersen fits perfectly into his role with the Heat. Andersen began his career with Miami by signing multiple 10 day contracts in hopes that he might get the chance to become a full-time member of the defending champs. And as many months have passed and he is now an NBA champion, he learned very quickly how to fit in in South Beach. From his outrageous looks to his phenomenal play, Chris proved himself as an incredible role player when he shot an unheard-of 80 percent from the field in the playoffs, even going on a three-game stint where he did not miss a single shot, from the field or the free throw line. Although he does not put up ridiculous statistics like a Roy Hibbert or Dwight Howard, he knows his role and plays it well. And unlike his two star opponents, he has a championship under his belt.
No. 1 Mario Chalmers
In his fifth season with the Miami Heat, Mario Chalmers has quickly become the fourth best player on his team of All-Stars. Mario really hit his stride this season when he hit 10, yes 10, three-pointers to set his career high with 34 points. That was his coming out party. But Mario is no stranger to being a star, as he is known for "Mario's Miracle," when he hit the game tying shot against Derrick Rose's Memphis Tigers to send the 2008 NCAA Championship to overtime, in which his Kansas Jayhawks prevailed. Much like the incredible three he hit in Game 7 of this year's Finals to the end of the third quarter and give the Heat a one point lead so they could begin their road towards victory. He also hit four three-pointers in the prior elimination game so that Miami could stay alive to play another day. Truth is that he is fourth most clutch player on the Heat behind LeBron James, Ray Allen and Dwyane Wade, and those guys are Hall of Famers with much more experience than the young Chalmers. But he is continually getting better and I can't wait to see what he brings to the table next season.