Top 5 Miami Heat Bench Players
The Top Five Bench Players for the Miami Heat
Even with a roster that includes LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, having a solid group of role players is absolutely vital in winning an NBA championship. As we have witnessed over the last few seasons with the Miami Heat, exhaustion can take a toll on the starting lineup, especially when they are averaging over 38 minutes a game. Having a trustworthy second unit to give your starting lineup relief is key.
This upcoming season will be the toughest for the defending champions. Many contending teams from last season have added players to deepen their benches in hopes of stealing the title away. Consistency from the role players will need to strengthen from last season in order for the Heat to have a chance at a three-peat. Although the Heat’s bench last season was no. 1 in the league in 3-point shots made, they ranked 16th in field goal percentage and 24th in offense. These are rankings that need to improve drastically.
There are currently five role players on the Heat roster that could be the difference between bringing home a third championship to Biscayne Bay or finishing the playoffs empty-handed. Some of the Heat’s best game-winning shots in the postseason have come from players off the bench, and this upcoming season won’t be any different. Here are the top five role players for the Miami Heat.
5. Greg Oden
Much of Greg Oden’s playing time will depend on his health, but if the Miami Heat are able to maintain his minutes throughout the regular season, Oden will be extremely valuable in the postseason. The Heat really struggled against teams with size in the last few post-seasons, so his 7-foot frame could be important in guarding the paint. Oden can also provide some much-needed relief to both Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen at the center position.
4. Shane Battier
Even with the statistical decline Shane Battier has experienced over the last few seasons, he still provides solid relief for LeBron James at the small forward position. Battier is one of the smartest players in the league, and even with old age biting at his ankles; the veteran player has found a way to become more efficient at shooting from beyond the arc. This gives the Miami Heat an added dimension in terms of offense. Battier will need to maintain at least 43 percent shooting from beyond the arc in order to keep the Heat on top.
3. Norris Cole
Norris Cole is slowly becoming the dual threat that the Heat's management was dreaming about when they signed him in 2011. Cole has not only increased his field goal percentage, 3-point shooting percentage and assists per game, but he has reduced his turnover ratio from 1.6 a game to 1.3. This has made Cole a more efficient basketball player. As a role player, there is nothing more that a team can ask for. Cole has also become one of the better on-ball defenders for the Heat. With the amount of quality point guards in the league, having a guard that can defend them is a must. Cole fits that role to perfection.
2. Chris Andersen
Since the Miami Heat signed Chris Andersen, they have gone 39-3. That statistic alone should prove how valuable Andersen is as a role player for the Heat. With size being an issue since the formation of the Big Three, Andersen provides much-needed relief for Chris Bosh underneath the rim. This upcoming season, Andersen will need to maintain at least one block a game (his average last season), plus increase his rebounding in order to keep the Heat aggressive in the paint. His energy off the bench is key for the Heat to win the title this season.
1. Ray Allen
Ray Allen is the most important role player for the Miami Heat heading into the 2013-14 season. With Dwyane Wade's minutes most likely being limited due to his recovery from knee injury, Allen will be responsible for shouldering some of the offensive load. Allen averaged just 25.8 minutes a game last season for the Heat, coupled with 10.9 PPG, 2.7 RPG and 1.7 APG. All of these numbers will need to increase in order for the Heat to remain competitive. Allen needs to play like the best sixth man in the league.