While the Miami Heat's rotation for the 2013-14 season will look very similar to how it did for the 2012-13 season, the distribution of the team's minutes will change with the new season.
One Miami starter stands to lose minutes because of his emerging backup, and another will likely play less due to health issues.
On top of that, thanks to the few offseason acquisitions the Heat have made, a few veterans' roles could be partially or, in one case, completely, taken away by newcomers.
Let's explore further which Heat players are going to be on the bench more than they were a year ago.
Wade isn't going to see a decline in minutes because he's "washed up and no longer an elite player," which some seem to think. (A healthy Wade is still one of the game's best.) It will simply be for precautionary reasons.
Never before had D-Wade looked more ineffective in his career than he did in the 2013 postseason. Dealing with multiple knee injuries, he averaged just 15.9 points per game, which made the Heat's championship run that much more difficult.
Miami doesn't want a similar issue in 2014. This team is focused on putting themselves in the best position to win a championship. The way to do that is to keep Dwyane Wade fresh throughout the year. The Heat will gladly sacrifice a little bit of regular-season success to have a healthy Wade in the playoffs.
Considering Wade's first on-the-court basketball work this offseason came in August due to shock treatment on both of his knees, via Ira of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, there's no reason for Miami to give Wade his normal dose of 35 minutes per game this season.
It's not as if the Heat won't still be the best team in the Eastern Conference if Wade is playing a couple fewer minutes per night.
Expect the future Hall of to be more in the 30-32 nightly minute range in 2013-14.
In the 2011-12 regular season, Joel Anthony was a starter who averaged 21.1 minutes per night. However, Anthony lost his starting job in the 2012 postseason, as the Heat committed to small-ball.
Then, he lost his rotation role in January 2013, with the Heat signing Chris "Birdman" Andersen. Anthony finished the 2012-13 season with a 9.1-minute-per-game average.
Well, the fall will continue for Anthony in 2013-14, as Miami has added former No. 1 pick Greg Oden this offseason.
So, yes, Anthony did indeed go from starter to fourth-string center in a little more than a year.
Since it's unclear whether or not Oden will be ready for the start of the season, according to ESPN's Marc Stein, Anthony might still see some garbage time minutes while the Heat's latest reclamation project recovers from injury.
But once Oden is healthy enough to give it a go, it's going to be really difficult for Anthony to get any minutes.
A potential decrease in minutes for Chalmers has little to do with his ability. He's a solid starter who's coming off the best season of his career.
But Chalmers has a guy playing behind him in Norris Cole who really started to come into his own during the 2013 playoffs. He showed plenty of growth in multiple offensive facets of the game (shooting, finishing at the rim, playmaking, etc) and is an outstanding on-ball defender.
If Cole can continue to take strides offensively, he could steal some of 'Rio's minutes. Last season, Chalmers averaged 26.9 minutes per game, and Cole averaged 19.9. With an impressive training camp performance from Cole, perhaps the minutes will be more evenly distributed in 2013-14 (say, 25 MPG for Chalmers and 22 MPG for Cole).
Honorable Mention: Udonis Haslem
Haslem is an honorable mention because a smaller role for him in 2013-14 is less likely than it is for the other three players on this list.
Why is that the case? It's because this situation involves Michael Beasley.
If Beasley can prove he's deserving of not just a roster spot, but a role as well, he will cut into Udonis' minutes.
Miami signed Beasley to a non-guaranteed contract, according to Winderman, so UD doesn't seem to be in a ton of danger now. But if Beasley is humbled by his recent career failures and can find a way to use his talent correctly, then, believe it or not, he could be a contributor to this year's Heat team.
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