The Miami Heat began the preseason Monday night with 20 men on the roster. Of those 20 men, 13 know that they are guaranteed a spot come the end of October, leaving seven players to battle over two spots.
Many believe, myself included, that Miami will retain troubled forward Michael Beasley. It would make little sense for Pat Riley to bring the young man back to South Beach, only to cut him a month later. Plus, Riley will not give up that easily on his latest “redemption project.” We can argue later on how that works out for Riley and Miami.
That leaves one spot for Larry Drew II, Eric Griffin, Justin Hamilton, Jarvis Varnado, Charlie Westbrook and Roger Mason Jr.
The standout in the preseason victory over the Atlanta Hawks was Mason Jr. The guard played 27 minutes off the bench and recorded 14 points, six rebounds and six assists. His biggest competition was Varnado, who had four points.
Clearly Mason Jr. is the front runner for the final roster position, and he should be. He has more NBA experience than the other five players combined. Besides Mason, Varnado is the only other player to play in the Association.
Although his career has been spotty, inconsistent and he has bounced around the league, Mason Jr. easily deserves the final roster position. His best season came in ’08-’09 with the San Antonio Spurs, when he started 71 games and averaged 11.8 points per game, both career highs. For his career, he averages 6.5 points and 1.8 rebounds per game.
Even if he does make the team, he may see little to no playing time, or he could turn out to be a solid bench player. He is a decent rebounding guard and handles the ball well. He could provide bench minutes for the Heat, but don’t hold me to that.
Miami still has seven exhibition games before the regular season opener against the Chicago Bulls. The other candidates still have time to state their case for the final roster spot, but I would be a bit surprised if Mason Jr. got the axe.