5 Most Important Backups on Miami Heat

Mike Miller put the finishing touch on a fabulous run led by NBA great LeBron James.
Hitting seven three-pointers in the Game 5, he helped close out the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals.

With some solid off-season additions, it is a scary thought for the rest of the NBA that the defending champions have only gotten better.

Assuming the starting lineup is composed of Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony, here are the five most important players the Miami Heat have coming off the bench.

5. James Jones, SF

The nine-year veteran out of the University of Miami played in the majority of the 66 regular season games for Miami.

Although he had a lesser contribution to the Heat’s playoff run, he is a role player at 6’8” that the Heat can turn to if LeBron James or Chris Bosh need to rest. His career has been and will be as a back-up and he can perform at a reasonable level in this position for Miami.

Selected 2011-12 Statistics:

3.6 PPG/40 percent on 3PT field goals/51 games played /13.1 minutes per game

4. Norris Cole, PG

Although Mario Chalmers is an above average three-point shooter—and probably the best on the Miami Heat until Ray Allen signed—he sometimes gets complacent when taking the back seat to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Chalmers has had big games for the Miami Heat but Cole has also had playoff games where he hit some huge three pointers. The back-up point guard has taken advantages of the infrequent opportunities that he has been given—to the pleasant surprise of the Heat.

At 23 years old, Cole has a bright future ahead of him.

Selected 2011-12 Statistics:

6.8 PPG/2.0 APG/1.4 RPG/65 games played

3. Rashard Lewis, SF/PF

After becoming known as one of the most overpaid NBA players, Rashard Lewis looks to get back on track with the Miami Heat. Signing a two-year deal for the veteran’s minimum is a bargain pick-up for Miami and adds depth and scoring potential at both forward positions.

Having expectations this low for Lewis is good for two reasons: he doesn’t have much pressure to live up to a big contract like the $21 million he was earning, and he can only impress the Heat.

Selected 2011-12 Statistics:

7.8 PPG/3.9 RPG/28 games played

2. Shane Battier, SF/PF

The former Duke star was a vital cog to the championship squad last year. His flexibility in defending both forward positions was excellent depending on which of Bosh and/or James was on the court.

He stepped up big in the playoffs, especially in the Finals where he drilled three pointer after three pointer.

Battier also shot an NBA record 58 percent on 3PT field goals in the Finals. With James, Wade and Bosh not as potent offensive threats outside of the arc, Battier’s accuracy from deep helped take pressure off the Big Three and also spread the floor.

Selected 2011-12 Statistics:

4.8 PPG/2.4 RPG/1.3 APG/ 1.0 SPG/65 games played

1. Ray Allen, SG

The loudest acquisition for the Miami Heat this offseason was the three-point specialist and future Hall of Famer, Ray Allen.

He is undoubtedly the most important back-up for Miami, if for nothing else because he would be a starter for most other NBA teams. Although his years may be catching up with him (including a nagging injury at the end of last season), Allen has proven that he can still perform at a very high level.

Unlike the Celtics, who lost Allen and substituted Jason Terry in his place, it was only a gain for the Heat who signed the NBA’s all-time leader in three-point field goals made and attempted.

If the Heat can stay healthy and Allen adds the outside presence that he is capable of (and that the Heat were lacking) there is going to be no way to prevent Miami from defending their 2012 title.

Selected 2011-12 Statistics:
14.2 PPG/3.1 RPG/2.4 APG/1.1 SPG/45 percent 3PT FG percentage

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