Over the last few seasons, the Miami Heat have sustained much of their success by adding gritty, seasoned veterans to the roster to supplement the core of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. The franchise is now entering an era where they will no longer be able to just plug in veterans around a core trio of players. The Heat organization will instead have to take a route that it has yet to embrace in it’s 26-year existence, and that is relying on developmental players on a title ready roster.
Two players that figure to have key roles with the Heat this season are James Ennis and Shabazz Napier. Ennis is particular will receive more playing time due to the departure of LeBron from the roster. Ennis’s time overseas has done wonder for his game, mainly in the scoring department. Ennis averaged 21.2 points per game in Australia, and even finished 3rd in MVP voting. His success has transferred into the Summer League, where he currently is the Heat’s leading scorer, having put up 18 and 29 point games against the Brooklyn Nets and the Boston Celtics. His ability to score from all areas of the court will make him a perfect addition in the rotation behind Luol Deng at the small forward spot.
Napier has struggled for the Heat in the Summer League, but has still shown signs of promise as an up and coming point guard. With Norris Cole being used as a potential trade piece to bring in another veteran wing player, Napier could find himself with solid rotation minutes as the second used point guard off the bench behind Mario Chalmers.
The fact of the matter is, the Heat organization has spent significant time this summer grooming both Ennis and Napier for roles with the team this season. This is a change of direction for a franchise that has relied on seasoned veterans for production. If developmental players start producing significantly for the Heat off the bench, expect the franchise to change their long-term approach on how to acquire talent. A franchise like the San Antonio Spurs has proven that by developing players, whether overseas or through the D-League, you can have the depth necessary to win a title, even against a team with the best player on the planet.