At a certain point, Miami Heat fans, media and national pundits will have to move on from the shock of LeBron James going home like Pat Riley did — at least until Christmas.
Assuming that Erik Spoelstra will now be moving away from the idea of small ball, power forward Udonis Haslem should revel in the opportunity to become the solid rebounding force that he was before the official strategy change in the offseason of 2012.
He expressed not knowing where he fit into the offense in the past, but in the first two years of the Big Three era and the seasons prior, Haslem was a consistent 8.3 RPG player. Miami needs the return of that, alongside a more aggressive version of Mario Chalmers, one who looks like a mix between the guy who took over big games when James would go missing, and the shooting guard who averaged 12 PPG with the Kansas Jayhawks.
Maybe Lil Wayne took it a bit far by labeling him a “beast” on ESPN’s First Take, this week, but Chalmers can truly do more than just be the spot-up point guard that he was regulated to with the Chosen One in town.
The problem with that is, Chris Bosh’s $118 million contract does not allow him to run from being the man. The five-year max means that he has to get as close as possible to his 20 PPG, 9.0 RPG Toronto Raptors average. This is his chance to step up after a four-year span of sacrificing his stats.
Speaking of sacrifice, Dwyane Wade has to continue to be a martyr for his team the same way he has been for the previous 11 seasons. But this time, it’ll be at the expense of rest and ego.
Without James, D-Wade needs to be on the court for more than a third of the season. It’ll be the only way that the three-time champ can adjust to being guarded by the opposing team’s best wing defender, something he has not had to bother with for the majority of the Heat’s historic run. It will also come with the responsibility of deferring to Bosh on nights when he doesn’t have it in him.
This is another reason why the Heat should look into their loyalty tank and give Michael Beasley a real shot without James around. He’s the scoring punch the bench could use as the team looks to move on and return to the NBA Finals.