Is this the new dominant NBA franchise? After only 27 years of existence, the All-Time Miami Heat team has a mix of dominant wings, Hall of Fame big men, and clutch point guard play. With three championships in that short time, they enter our tournament as the ninth seed.
The team’s only true point guard is Tim Hardaway, who helped them amass a .664 win percentage during his five full seasons with the franchise (the equivalent of 54 wins per season). Although he no longer had the speed and quickness from his Golden State days, he was a clutch performer with Miami, and finished fourth and sixth in the MVP voting in 1997 and 1998. The starting shooting guard is the franchise’s signature player, Dwyane Wade, who’s emerged as one of the greatest shooting guards of all time. John Hollinger rated Wade’s 2006 NBA Finals performance as the greatest ever, and he’s led the league in scoring (2009), playoff scoring (2010), and PER (2007) during his Heat career.
Remember what I said about Milwaukee’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? The same applies for Miami’s LeBron James, who might be the most versatile player in this tournament. James’s ‘four years of college’ produced an NBA Finals appearance in every season, a 27 game winning streak, and the only two regular season MVP awards in franchise history. The underappreciated Chris Bosh is the starter at power forward. Bosh’s deadly midrange game fits beautifully alongside Wade’s slashing game and James’s all-court dominance.
Hall-of-Famer and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Alonzo Mourning is the team’s starting center. Mourning dominated the paint defensively, and putting him alongside James (a dominant defender), and Wade and Bosh (solid defenders) will make this team very difficult to score against.
This team’s bench consists of long-range shooters and big bodies. Expect Eddie Jones and Glen Rice to get plenty of minutes alongside James and Wade to space the floor. Jones was a good all-around player who defended wings very well, and Rice will play small forward when this team downsizes and places James at the four. Voshon Leonard is another three-point shooter who will play sparingly behind Hardaway, Wade, and Jones. P.J. Brown and Brian Grant provide nice size at power forward. Brown was a very solid defender, and both bring toughness and energy off the bench. Shaquille O’Neal and Rony Seikaly are the bench’s centers. Although Shaq was past his prime, he could still score on anybody one-on-one, and he finished second in the MVP voting in his first year with the franchise.
This team should be exceptionally versatile, largely due to James. Want to play big? Play James at point guard. Want to play small? Play him at power forward. Need a defensive stop? Have James guard the opposing team’s best perimeter player, and trot out a lineup of Wade, Jones, James, Brown, and Mourning. While their bench isn’t great, they have many effective players who fit well around their superstars. Despite the franchise’s youth, this team holds great potential, and will be a threat to advance far in our tournament.
Coach: Erik Spoelstra
All-Time Franchise Winning Percentage (through 2014-15): .518