Despite losing LeBron James, the Heat still have plenty of championship parts to remain very competitive. While Wade might be the franchise’s favorite son, the No. 1 option on offense will fall on the shoulders of Bosh, also re-signed during the off-season, to a max contract (5 years, $118 million). Bosh has always been able to score and should will get more opportunities. Last season, he hit 74 three-pointers—his previous high had been 21. With LeBron gone, his stretch four role won’t be as prominent. Instead he’ll be tasked with more interior low-post duties and playing off the pick-and-roll. Deng, who gets the unenviable job of inheriting James’ position, is a model of consistency, averaging 16.7 points on 44.1 percent shooting over the last five years, never dipping below 15 ppg and 41 percent. Versatile Danny Granger, 31, is looking to reverse two years of injuries and frustration and revert to the form that made him the go-to at Indiana, a five-year stretch during which he averaged 21.6 points and 5.4 rebounds in 35.4 minutes. McRoberts, who moves to power forward, will help supplement the three-point shooting attack. McRoberts made 105 three-pointers on .361 shooting, but may miss some games early while recovering from toe surgery. Figuring out who will take the shot on any given possession may be less challenging than figuring out who will be setting the table. The Heat must sort out a three-headed, pointguard rotation featuring seven-year veteran Mario Chalmers, fourth-year guard Norris Cole, who made a career-high 60 triples last year, and Napier, Charlotte’s first-round pick and Miami draft night acquisition, who is fresh off leading UConn to the 2014 National Championship and had a solid training camp. Outlook The NBA season is a long one. In Miami, i t could turn out to be very long or one that surpasses expectations. A lot depends on the health of Wade and the transition to Bosh as the focal point. The ability to work in new faces, especially Luol Deng, Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts, and to stay the Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images course and develop trust in each other is the other variable. The Heat are a team that is getting up there and walks the fine line between prime and past their prime. The roster does have an infusion of youth, which helps. With the naysayers lining up to see the Heat fall, the team will be highly motivated. And the Heat still defend, which always gives a team a chance. Whether that’s enough to defend their fouryear Southeast Division crown streak is up for debate, but these proud champs will go down fighting. In quite a reversal of recent fortune, the Heat will become someone’s postseason first-round nightmare matchup. SPOTLIGHT: Luol Deng Deng doesn’t ask for a lot. He never asked to be the player that brought in to replace a legend. He unknowingly was part of the controversy that’s damaged a division rival’s front office. He’s never been, nor even expects to be the star. There’s not a lot of flash to the 6-9, 220-pound forward’s game. He’s probably the quietest two-time All-Star you’re ever going to find. To find him, just look for the trail of points and rebounds and consistent quality on both ends of the floor. For his career, the 10-year veteran averages 16.1 ppg while shooting .457 in 35.8 minutes. In the playoffs, he’s the same consistent and durable performer (16.7, .452, 40.3). He also is a tenacious defender, who very quietly takes his man out of the game, forcing him into bad-shooting nights (this even included LeBron on occasions). Deng is not LeBron, but he is smart enough to know not to try to be. In the wake of the end of “The Heatles,” he may be the perfect piece to add to the mix. Night after night, you can just point to the floor, let him go and then not worry about him. Deng plays as hard as he can for as long as he can has proven he can go a while, as he’s twice led the League in minutes played, and also led in games played. You may not notice him, but then again, that’s always been the case.
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