- David Thorpe, ESPN Staff Writer
While the Miami Heat have a very good shot at advancing to the NBA Finals, we can't help but wonder what they would look like if more than the "Big Three" could play at a high level on a consistent basis.
Udonis Haslem missed 69 games, but has returned strong enough to be their fourth-best player in the last two games. A strong case is being made that they are winning despite having the worst roster in the game from their fifth-best player on down (after all, it took Haslem only two games to return as the team's fourth-best player after a 69-game absence).
They're winning with Mike Bibby as their starting point guard, though he's not playing like most point guards. Of the 28 PGs who have played in the postseason, Bibby ranks last among them in PER at a shockingly low 3.01. A big part of his problem, besides his horrendous showing as a shooter, is a usage rate of 12.1, tied with Derek Fisher as the second-lowest rate, above only Steve Blake out of those 28 guards.
Yes, both Lakers point guards rank that low because they are not really playing that position on offense. With Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, the Lakers can utilize other players and an offensive scheme to earn assists. The Heat have similar options with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade at the wing spots and Chris Bosh inside, as all three players are guys who can make lots of smart basketball plays with the ball. LeBron is obviously better than all of the players mentioned here as a playmaker, and Wade is one of the best scorers/passers in basketball, so the Heat's need for a traditional point guard is small. All of this serves to beg the question: What will Miami end up looking like going forward, whether they win a title this season or not?
David Thorpe writes that the Miami Heat are winning with what could be the league's worst roster from the fifth-best player on down. Next season's solution: Add a nontraditional point guard to the starting lineup.