2008 NBA Preview: #12 Miami Heat

Offseason Movement: The team acquired two big names via the draft. Michael Beasley should play a ton of minutes right away and Mario Chalmers is a nice point guard prospect. The Heat also signed three-point specialist James Jones and signed Shaun Livingston to a two-year deal.
Keep Your Eye On: Michael Beasley, F
In many ways, the Heat’s playoff chances rely heavily on how quickly the talented scoring forward can adjust to the NBA game. He is averaging over 15 points and 48% shooting in preseason, so all signs point to a ROY-type season. Beasley can score from just about anywhere on the court and he and Dwyane Wade should provide a formidable one-two punch.
The Big Question: Can Shawn Marion and Michael Beasley co-exist?
Conventional wisdom states that Marion and Beasley play the same position so therefore one of them (Marion) has to go. But in today’s NBA, I see no reason why the two can’t play together on Miami’s frontline. Beasley is a player that has to have the ball in his hands. You run plays for him, you throw it to him in the post, whatever. Conversely, Marion is an energy player who gets most of his points on the break, on offensive rebounds or spotting up in the corner for a three-point shot. The Marion trade talk is already hot and heavy, and there are two things working against the Matrix sticking around in Miami – his age and his asking price. He’s 30, so does he really fit into Miami’s rebuilding plan? Is Miami really rebuilding or could they contend in the next 1-3 seasons? If so, it might be wise to hold onto Marion if the trio gels. If not, the Heat will almost certainly trade Marion, though finding a taker might be tough considering his asking price. A Marion for Lamar Odom swap makes a lot of sense for both teams. The other option is to let Marion go, which will free up a ton of cap space next summer.
Outlook: With Wade, Beasley and Shawn Marion, the Heat have a very scary lineup at the 2-3-4. If all three – but especially Wade – can stay healthy, and they can get decent play at center ant point guard, Miami will make some noise. I’m sure I will take some flack for picking the Heat to finish ahead of the Cavs, but I just like Wade’s supporting cast a lot more. It’s not that Miami is deeper, it’s just that Marion and Beasley are probably better than the next two guys on Cleveland’s roster. Honestly, things are so tight in the middle third of the league that it doesn’t really matter.

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