Although Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh resigned, the Miami Heat are sure to be a different team going into the upcoming season. Gone are the days of LeBron James single-handedly taking over games, but rather this season, Bosh and Wade will step up and take this role while playing more as a team, unlike previous years where the former “Big Three” could dominate games and a few role players could contribute to the cause.
Despite its success, we now see how important it is to have, for example, a good bench alongside a “Big Three” as the San Antonio Spurs showcased in the 2014 NBA Finals.
It is imperative that the Miami Heat play as a team in all aspects. As I mentioned the importance of bench play, the Heat now have a roster with players who should contribute huge dividends to their success, thanks to James leaving and players willing to take salary cuts. After all, it is best for the organization and as an NBA player, your main goal should be to win championships. But we know, for some, that is not the case.
However, with the new and improved team, keep and eye on forward Luol Deng to be the X-factor this season. Coming in to replace LeBron James, it is obvious he can’t be “King James” but he’ll be very essential to Miami’s overall success. Behind forward Chris Bosh and guard Dwyane Wade comes Deng. There are other additions the Heat have who will contribute to the team at a high level, but by far Deng is the most important. Not only can the 10-year veteran contribute on offense, he is committed to playing solid defense as well.
For his career, the 6-foot-9, 220-pound small forward has averaged 22 points per game. Not to mention, although many would say he has declined some over the last four years, Deng has averaged 20 points per game in the last five seasons. In 2012, he was selected for the NBA All-Defensive Second Team for his efforts with the Bulls. The numbers don’t lie. Thus, his offensive production and veteran leadership will certainly help the the team. His defensive ability is an extra added incentive because at times, Miami struggled defensively.
On a small aside, some may argue guard and forward Danny Granger is the X-factor. I definitely think he will be called upon to contribute heavily for the team and could potentially be a X-factor in some cases but not the overall X-factor for next season. Throughout his nine years of NBA experience he’s been very injury prone,and I look for Deng to assist Granger to progress in their new roles together.
Like Ray Allen was to James, Wade and Bosh; Luol Deng is now that player for the “Big Two”. Due to him getting older, Deng may face some challenges on defense against quicker guards or forwards. However, that has yet to be seen. As long as he remains consistent on both ends of the floor, which I think he will, the Heat will be a contender in every game with his play, powered by other bench players and the inclusion of Bosh and Wade.