Predicting Miami Heat's Final 15-Man Roster
With staples such as LeBron James, Shane Battier, James Jones, Rashard Lewis and presumably Ray Allen departing this offseason, nine of the 16 players signed to the Heat right now were not with the team a year ago.
We're going to break down this transformed team by predicting Miami's final 15-man roster and examining what the opening-night depth chart could potentially look like.
Starter: Mario Chalmers
Chalmers will enter training camp as the unquestioned favorite to earn the starting point guard job.
While he struggled mightily in the 2014 NBA Finals, Chalmers is coming off a fairly successful season, averaging 9.8 points, 4.9 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game in 2013-14.
At 28 he's probably done growing as a player, but Chalmers should have a career year from a statistical standpoint as a result of James' absence.
Backup: Norris Cole
Cole will have a lot to prove in his fourth year following an up-and-down 2013-14 season.
Cole finished the year with averages of 6.4 points and 3.0 assists per game, while shooting just 41.4 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from beyond the arc.
He remains an effective on-ball defender, but he'll need to show significant improvements in just about every facet of his offensive game to challenge Chalmers for the starting role.
At the same time, his experience in Miami will in all likelihood hold off Shabazz Napier for the backup role.
Backup No. 2: Shabazz Napier
Napier was a disaster during summer league play this offseason, but he heads into the 2014-15 season with a college pedigree few incoming rookies can match.
Napier is a two-time NCAA champion and averaged 18.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists during his senior season.
A key for Napier earning playing time will be cutting down on turnovers (4.8 per game in Orlando summer league play) and proving he can knock down shots at the NBA level like he did in college (40.5 3P% in 2013-14).
Starter: Dwyane Wade
Wade has plenty of doubters right now, with many believing his age (32) and knee problems will prevent him from remaining a top player.
However, there's plenty of reason to believe Wade will get the last laugh here. Wade's poor NBA Finals performance versus the San Antonio Spurs masked the fact that he was outstanding during the regular season, averaging 19.0 points (54.5 percent shooting from the field), 4.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
Wade should see the ball a lot more this season and easily top 20 points per game.
Backup: Reggie Williams
It really says something about how thin the Heat are at shooting guard when we're listing Reggie Williams, who played just three games this past season, as the Heat's backup 2.
But unless Miami makes another move, Williams should make the team and see the court to start the season.
Williams can shoot the ball (37.1 3P%), which makes him an offensive asset on this team. However, he's really going to need to play much better on the defensive end than he has in the past if he is to remain in the Heat's rotation for the entire year.
Backup No. 2: Tyler Johnson
An undrafted guard out of Fresno State, Johnson was excellent during summer league play.
In 11 games, Johnson averaged 12.2 points (54.8 percent shooting from the field and 46.7 percent shooting from outside) 3.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.
Johnson's youth (22), shooting ability (43.2 3P% during his senior year) and athleticism make him an intriguing option for Miami.
However, with his contract not guaranteed, he is far from a lock to make this roster.
Starter: Luol Deng
Deng comes to the Heat in the unenviable position of having to follow in James' footsteps.
The 10-year veteran won't come close to replicating LeBron's production (nor is anyone expecting him to), but he's an absolutely crucial piece of this team as it attempts to contend without The Chosen One.
Miami is going to need to be a strong defensive team to remain highly competitive, and Deng is an expert on that side of the ball. He'll also be able to provide around 15 points per night as the third option behind Wade and Chris Bosh.
Backup: Danny Granger
Granger is the ultimate boom-or-bust signing. It was only three seasons ago that Granger averaged 18.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game for the Indiana Pacers.
But since then, Granger has had injury issues, playing in just 46 games total the past two years; he simply hasn't been the same player. He last played for the Los Angeles Clippers, for whom he averaged 8.0 points on 42.9 percent shooting from the floor.
Which Danny Granger we will see this year remains to be seen.
Backup No. 2: James Ennis
For a 2013 late second-round pick who played overseas last season, Ennis begins 2014-15 with a good amount of hype.
The forward was the Heat's top player throughout summer league play this offseason, averaging 15.5 points (51.7 percent shooting from the field and 48.1 percent shooting from outside), 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in six games.
Ennis has the athleticism, length and shooting ability to make him a valuable asset in Miami for the forseeable future.
He might be third on the depth chart here, but expect him to get some real minutes next season.
Starter: Josh McRoberts
McRoberts might not have been a splashy signing, but he's a do-it-all stretch 4 who is a great fit in Miami's small-ball system.
McRoberts will be a tremendous asset for the team's ball movement, as few power forwards can pass like he can (4.8 assists per game in 2013-14). He'll also space the floor (8.5 PPG, 36.1 3P%) and is capable on the defensive end.
With Bosh and McRoberts projected as starters, the Heat can make life tough on opponents with its versatile big men.
Backup: Udonis Haslem
Haslem started to show serious signs of decline last season, averaging just 3.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
However, Haslem should still find himself with a rotation spot.
The Heat don't have many other options, and he still plays with a lot of energy and a toughness that can make Miami a bit intimidating.
Backup No. 2: Shawne Williams
Williams is definitely someone who could have been slotted in at small forward, but he makes a lot of sense for this team as a stretch 4.
Williams averaged 5.6 points and 4.6 rebounds last season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Unfortunately for him, he also shot just 32.6 percent from beyond the arc. That number would have to rise for him to work in a Shane Battier-type role, but he does have a season under his belt (2010-11 with the New York Knicks) in which he shot 40.1 percent from three, so that's certainly possible.
Williams' roster spot is not a lock, so a good showing in training camp is a must for him.
Starter: Chris Bosh
As the new No. 1 option, Bosh is going to put up some big numbers this season.
While Bosh hasn't been asked to carry such a workload since he was a member of the Toronto Raptors, the two-time champion is a much better player now than when he was with the Raptors and is equipped to succeed in such a role.
After averaging 16.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game this past year, Bosh's floor is likely around 20 points and seven boards in 2014-15.
Backup: Chris Andersen
Chris Andersen is 36, but he appears to have a good amount left in the tank and should be able to hold down the backup center role in a productive fashion for another season.
Andersen averaged 6.6 points (64.4 percent shooting from the floor) and 5.3 rebounds per game in 2013-14.
As long as Andersen continues to play with energy, rebound the basketball and alter shots on the defensive end, the Heat are in good shape.
Backup No. 2: Justin Hamilton
Hamilton was on the Heat's roster last year, but he was basically a non-factor. He appeared in just seven games and averaged 3.7 points and 1.0 rebound per game.
Hamilton should at least have his same spot on the bench with the potential for more after some impressive summer league performances. In five games in Orlando, Hamilton averaged 13.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
At 7'0" and 24 years old, Hamilton still has plenty of room to grow and the Heat are going to want to continue developing him.
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