Saturday, September 24, 2005

Offseason Overview: Miami Heat

One game away from making the NBA Finals, and Pat Riley goes out and completely makes over his team. The mega-trade that brought Antoine Walker, James Posey and Jason Williams in exchange for Eddie Jones was a no-brainer from a talent perspective, but Walker and Williams obviously have reputations that precede them. This influx of talent could create fantasy headaches, as it remains to be seen if there are stats to go around for everyone.

The Stud: Dwyane Wade, G
If there’s one guy who you can be sure will put up his numbers, it’s The Flash. Yes, his assists will go down now that the team brought in a true point guard in Williams and he’s not much of a threat from outside. It’s easy to overlook the 1.1 blocks he had last year, but coming from a guard spot, that’s a huge plus. He’s also an accurate, high-volume shooter who gets his fair share of steals. He does have a tendency to get banged up, and any time a team is this deep, it makes it easier to take a couple of games off, but he should be off the board by the early second round at the absolute latest, and deservedly so.

The Support: Shaquille O’Neal, C
Yes, Shaq is the support. It’s just about a forgone conclusion that he will miss at least 10 games; he missed nine last year, 15 each of the three previous years. You have to think that one of the main reasons the Heat brought so much talent on board was to make sure Shaq could take it easy during the regular season. If he needs to take some games off, that’s fine, there will be plenty of people to pick up the slack. The Heat, like the Spurs, are built for at least a 100 game season. The free throw problems are well-documented and in bigger leagues that can really hurt. Fantasy is all about numbers, and the numbers say he was the 37th best player last year. Being a center obviously counts for a lot, but I don’t even think about Shaq until the third round, meaning he won’t be on my team.

The Supporting Support: Jason Williams, PG
J-Will escapes the fantasy hell of Memphis, but comes to a team that’s just as loaded and this time with actual stars. Still, getting to start at point guard in a lineup with Shaq and Dwyane should give him nice value. The Gary Payton signing could lead to trouble, since Payton has never proven to be someone to just sit there and take a reduced role. If Williams can average 7 assists and 1.5 3s – which are quite reasonable totals – he’ll make a fine second point guard to take in the mid-rounds.

The Sleeper: James Posey, GF
Walker and Williams got most of the ink, but Posey is also someone to remember. In 2003-2004 he averaged 1.4 3pg and 1.7 spg in just under 30 mpg. He was injured for much of last year and never really got into the groove, as evidenced by his scary 36% shooting. He doesn’t find himself in the most ideal situation rotation-wise, but there’s a chance he could crack the starting lineup and if he does, that combo of 3s and steals could prove quite valuable.

The Slacker: Antione Walker, F
It was just two years ago that people were asking how Walker would fare in a situation where he wouldn’t be the focal point of the offense. He responded in Dallas by putting up a very solid 14.0/8.3/4.5 line. Certainly among the lowest totals of his career, but he wasn’t a total disaster. Point being, his counting stats won’t completely fall off the charts. But those percentages… He actually got his FG% up to an almost respectable 44% last year, but three straight seasons at 55% or less from the line is just ugly. The only way he offsets that is by racking up the 3s, but after three straight seasons of averaging at least 2.4 per game, he hasn’t even hit 1.5 either of the past two years.

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