Five Miami Heat Players Who Should See More Playing Time

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Five Miami Heat Players Who Should See More Playing Time

Kim Klement- USA Today Sports

The panic button was hit slightly early when the Miami Heat started the season out at 1-2, under .500 for the first time since their first season together back in 2010. Since that rough patch, the Heat have been on a complete tear, winning eight of their last nine games by an average margin of 17.8 points. A large part of this is due to the depth this team possesses. The majority of their title-winning roster returned this season, only to be greeted by a few new faces, mainly Michael Beasley, Greg Oden and Roger Mason Jr.

Because of the large margin of victory the Heat have been enjoying lately, the fourth quarter has become the “unofficial” clearing of the bench in terms of getting players on the latter end of it some quality minutes. This has allowed players like Michael Beasley, Rashard Lewis and even James Jones to build confidence on the court. This will be an important factor heading into the playoffs, especially if an unforeseen injury occurs to one of the primary starters.

With so much depth on this team, select players have seen a decrease in minutes. This can be both a positive and a negative depending on how you look at it. With how well certain role players have been performing, it’s hard to argue against Erik Spoelstra’s line-up choices, especially now that the Heat have the fourth best record in the entire league.

Cohesion and unity are key, and without these five players getting significant minutes throughout the regular season, confidence could become a major issue. Here are five players that absolutely deserve more playing time.

Jared Doyle is a Miami Heat writer for Follow him on Twitter @outofboundsjay, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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5. Roger Mason Jr.

Robert Mayer- USA Today Sports

The nine-year journeyman has found a very small role for himself with the Miami Heat. So small in fact, he averaging the second lowest amount of minutes per game since his rookie year with the Chicago Bulls during the 2002-2003 regular season. Mason Jr. is an elite three-point shooter, and is already shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc for the Heat this season – the highest of his career. An increase in minutes would give the second unit for the Heat a bigger boost offensively, plus allow players like Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen, both guards ahead of Mason Jr. on the rotation, time to rest throughout the regular season.

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4. Joel Anthony

Tom Szczerbowski- USA Today Sports

Joel Anthony has to be one of the highest paid benchwarmers this league has ever seen. When Pat Riley pulled off the free agency coup of a lifetime and landed Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in 2011, the next two highest players on the roster were Mike Miller and Joel Anthony. Anthony is set to make 3.8 million dollars this season and next, which is startling considering he is averaging a career low 5.8 minutes per game. Anthony, for what he is making, either needs to be traded, or have a more solid role carved out for him on the Heat’s roster. Anthony has made his living being one of the best pick and role defending centers in the league due to his ability to move well laterally with his feet. This could come in handy for the Miami Heat when playing against large centers that run the pick and roll effectively with their respective point guards.

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3. James Jones

Kim Klement- USA Today Sports

After watching James Jones light up the Orlando Magic for 17 points on 5-7 shooting from beyond the arc this past Wednesday night, I have to wonder why Erik Spoelstra hasn’t pulled Jones from the depths of the bench to play quality minutes alongside the second unit. The spark he could provide offensively could be extremely valuable, especially if he is able to average more than the 5.8 minutes per game he accrued last season.

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2. Udonis Haslem

Tom Szczerbowski- USA Today Sports

The start of this season has been a bit unfortunate for Udonis Haslem. Not only has he already missed four games this year due to severe back spasms, but upon his return, was replaced in the starting line-up by Shane Battier. Since his return, his minutes coming off the bench have been diminished as well. Because of this, the majority of his major statistics have bottomed out. Haslem is seeing career lows in points, rebounds, blocks and steals. Haslem brings a level of tenacity and aggression not many players on the Heat roster have. If Haslem’s minutes continue to decrease, we could be looking at an extremely vulnerable frontcourt for the defending champs come playoff time.

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1. Chris Andersen

Kim Klement- USA Today Sports

Although the high-flying Birdman has seen a slight bump in minutes overall from last season, his presence hasn’t been felt nearly as much on the defensive end as it was last year. The increase in minutes is mostly from playing garbage time during the fourth quarter when the Heat are typically up by at least 17-20 points. Both his rebounding and blocking averages are down drastically from last season, which could be a major reason why Coach Erik Spoelstra has not elected to use the slumping veteran center more frequently in the first half of games. Chris Andersen can still bring plenty of energy and tenacity to the second unit, and the Miami Heat’s coaching staff should have a little more patience with Andersen in terms of productivity. Andersen will eventually round back into the form that made him one of the biggest additions last season for the defending champs.

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