Winners and Losers from Week 1 of Miami Heat's Preseason
As of October 11, the Miami Heat’s first two games of preseason are in the books, and as always, it’s time to break down the individual winners and losers.
It’s way too early for a player’s entire season to be made or destroyed based on two performances, but this is what we do as fans. We nitpick everything.
Loser: Charlie Westbrook
There’s a reason a shooting guard is called a shooting guard.
Aside from the corny preface, it’s hard to shake bad performances when you see them.
Charlie Westbrook just isn't shooting the ball well at all, and whether it’s a reflection of his rawness or simply a bad stretch, he’s just not putting the ball in the basket.
In his first game of preseason, Westbrook was unable to score a single field goal on three attempts, with his only point of the game coming from the charity stripe. To be fair, he only played a measly six minutes, but either way, it’s clear the young 24-year-old isn't having any luck from the field lately.
He followed up his unimpressive debut performance with a cringe-inducing 1-of-7 outing against the Detroit Pistons on October 10. He managed to score five points, but most of these were from the free-throw line.
His chances of cracking this roster were slim to none getting here, but now they’re all but dashed based on his recent struggles.
Winner: Chris Bosh
It’s preseason, but you wouldn't be unable to tell based on Chris Bosh’s recent performances.
The man has been going all out lately, and he’s playing like it’s already the regular season.
Bosh has had back-to-back performances scoring 20 or more points. In the second game against the Pistons, Bosh finished with a whopping 28 points—matching Detroit Pistons guard Will Bynum for the game high.
Aside from just scoring, Bosh is doing so with efficiency. He shot almost 90 percent from the field on eight attempts in the first game against the Atlanta Hawks, and in the Heat’s second game, Bosh shot a solid 75 percent on 16 shot attempts.
He displayed all-around phenomenal scoring, and it’s a great sign to see that Bosh has his stroke going early on before the season even tips off.
Bosh has always been a critical component of the Big Three, and there’s no doubt they’ll be glad to have his steady shot to spread the floor and diversify Miami’s scoring palette.
Loser: Ray Allen
Don’t be alarmed, folks. Ray Allen is still one of the G.O.A.T. (if not the G.O.A.T.) shooters, but even the best have their rough patches from time to time.
Ray Ray has had back-to-back outings shooting 1-of-6 from the field, and hey, at least you have to admire his consistency even if it’s consistent mediocrity, right?
When a shooter is cold people scream, “Stop!”, but when they’re hot, people want them to let it fly.
Just as any great shooter will tell you, the best way to get over a slump is to shoot your way out of it. Letting a cold streak get in your head is the first sign of trouble, and considering Allen is one of the greats, there’s no doubt he’ll be perfectly fine when the real season starts.
He just needs to find his groove, and of course, not let these two fluky shooting performances plague his mind—not that meaningless preseason games could faze a two-time NBA champion who hit one of the biggest shots in NBA Finals history.
Winner: Shane Battier
The numbers aren’t mesmerizingly impressive, but they’re what you want to see (and likely expect) from Shane Battier.
In both of his preseason performances, Battier has played his role to perfection: run to the three-point line, spot up and make easy baskets.
In the Heat’s first game against the Atlanta Hawks, Battier was 2-of-2 from the field by nailing a pair of three-pointers. In the Heat’s recent outing against the Pistons, Battier dropped eight points on 50 percent shooting.
He racked up five personal fouls in the Pistons game, but as tenacious of a defender as he is, contact is to be expected. Plus, officials call the game differently. Regardless of the excuses or explanations, five personals is a lot, but it shouldn't be a point of concern.
If anything, it’s a reflection of his effort and consistency as far as being ready to lock down opponents even during games that don’t necessarily matter in the long run.
Battier has yet again proven to be a reliable complementary piece, and going forward, the Heat should be confident in his ability to do his job without interfering with the rest of Miami’s moving parts.
Loser: Jarvis Varnado
Jarvis Varnado absolutely needs to bring his best, and his short term future with the Miami Heat depends on it.
Per a report by Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, Varnado is signed, but his contract is only partially guaranteed.
In plain English, Varnado misses out on over a quarter of a million dollars if he is cut before opening night, and he misses almost a million dollars if he’s not on the roster past December 15.
Based on his two recent performances, there isn't much to harp on, but there isn't much to praise either.
This is his opportunity to make a huge splash and really “wow” the coaching staff, but a 1-of-5 shooting performance followed by a six point, six foul outing might not cut it.
Varnado just hasn't looked remotely impressive, and while his pedestrian numbers aren’t necessarily indicative of a lack of talent, they’re not indicative of anything special either. Miami certainly likes Varnado—otherwise he wouldn't be playing—but they can only sustain mediocrity for so long.
Sure, he’s younger, but reliable output, whether it’s old or young, beats out young and inconsistent most of the time in the league. Varnado has to play smarter, and he has to look like a legit prospect rather than an inconsistent fringe baller who might be better off on a D-League roster.
It's still very, very early, but Varnado has to come out with more intensity if he’s serious about keeping his job. Otherwise, one of the aging vets, like a Joel Anthony, for example, might be hanging on to their spot at the end of the bench.
Winner: Michael Beasley
After not playing in Miami’s first game of the preseason, Michael Beasley’s phoenix-like resurrection in a Miami Heat uniform occurred in the second preseason game against the Atlanta Hawks.
Okay, he only scored nine points but did so in nine minutes, and credit should be given where it’s due.
Nine points in the time frame allotted, especially given his circumstances, is something that should be commended. In all honesty, Beasley has lucked out to get a chance to play for a roster like this considering his recent situations as a former member of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns.
Beasley has a lot of doubters, and whether you deem such doubt is deserved or not, he was given an opportunity, and so far, he has yet to squander it.
He showed more flashes of the legitimate scoring threat he’s capable of becoming, and even if he’s only a fixture on the bench, he’s a nice piece to have on your roster despite his potential personal issues.
It will be curious to see whether or not Beasley will get more minutes for Miami’s upcoming game against the Bobcats, but either way, his performance against the Pistons is a great start for someone in need of a confidence booster.