Since LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh collaborated together to form the Big Three, the Miami Heat have never had a true center who fits with the team. They have experimented with different players, but it has become apparent that said contributor needs to be a rebounding, defensive big man who can finish in the paint.
Dexter Pittman, originally drafted by the Heat in the second round of the 2010 draft, has not been what the team hoped. He takes up space in the middle, but has never been capable of truly helping in terms of interior defense or rebounding, two holes in an otherwise near-perfect system. There's been a cry from Heat fans everywhere for Pittman to be waived by team management and sign a more capable player to contribute effectively.
The former Texas Longhorn was assigned to the NBA Development League and currently plays for the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He had a rough start, averaging 7.5 points and eight rebounds on 38.5 percent shooting in his first two games in December, but has since improved. For the month of January, Pittman has put up 14.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks on shooting percentages of 50 and 76.9 from the floor and the free-throw line, respectively.
Pittman's most notable improvement is keeping out of foul-trouble. He's playing in 28 minutes per game for Sioux Falls in January while committing 2.8 fouls, which isn't perfect, but low enough that the big guy can play. Pittman's best output came in the matchup he played the most minutes in (hardly by coincidence) with 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, with three fouls in 36 minutes.
If Dex can bring that sort of contribution to Miami, their search for a center may be in vain. It has been well documented that Pittman hasn't been successful in the past. However, it is entirely possible his short stint with the Skyforce has brought him the confidence and control to be a potent contributor for Miami. He might not shock fans with his athleticism or skill, but it might just be enough to help out the Heat inside.
Follow Joshua J Vannuccini on Twitter at @jjvannuccini to keep up-to-date with Miami Heat and NBA news.
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