The season is still two
months weeks away, but most of the rosters are set, barring the requisite Michael Jordan comeback rumor (just kidding, but only a little). We have an idea where our team stands, but we can't really know unless we discuss everyone else. In that spirit, I'm going to throw up a "competition discussion" thread for each of the other 29 teams over the next month or so. We'll go in alphabetical order from A to Z. Today's team: Miami.
Last year's record: 44-38.
Playoffs: Lost to Chicago 4-0.
In: Smush Parker (free agent), Daequan Cook (draft), Penny Hardaway (retirement), Alexander Johnson (free agent).
Out: Jason Kapono (free agent), James Posey (free agent), Gary Payton (retired), Eddie Jones (free agent).
Projected starting lineup: Jason Williams, Dwayne Wade, Dorrell Wright, Udonis Haslem, Shaquille O'Neal.
Bench (in no particular order): Smush Parker, Chris Quinn, Daequan Cook, Brian Chase, Penny Hardaway, Antoine Walker, Wayne Simien, Alexander Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Michael Doleac, Earl Barron.
So what do we think? Can Shaq and Wade do it again? Who will shoot the ball without Kapono, Posey, and Eddie Jones? Can they get enough games out of Shaq and Wade? What will happen with Pat Riley?
Let's face facts here. Last year, this team won 44 games, but had the point differential of a 38 win team. Sure, that was bolstered by the huge blowout loss to Chicago to start the season, but the fact is, good teams don't get blown out as frequently as Miami did. They were decimated by injuries to Shaq and Wade, but Wade's already out for the first part of the year, and relying on Shaq to stay healthy at this point is futile. They lost their top three long-range bombers in Kapono, Posey, and Eddie Jones, which hurts doubly because teams can double-team Shaq without worrying about three-point shooters. Antoine Walker is still employed, and he's more out of shape than ever. Dorrell Wright is promising, but every time he's been given more minutes, his performance has been uneven. Smush Parker couldn't cut it in LA with Kobe Bryant, so what makes you think he'll work here? Jason Williams can still play, but he always gets hurt. Udonis Haslem is a nice player, but he's going to have to take a big step forward if Shaq and Wade miss a lot of games again.
Face it, this team is old, and the rest of the Eastern Conference has passed them by. Any marginal gains made in the number of games Shaq and Wade play will be offset by the losses of their top three shooters. That leaves them right back where they started, and I imagine their record will mirror their point differential more closely this year.
Therefore, I say 38-44 and out of the playoffs.
Other CDs, with mine and Jake's projected record alongside. Yours, of course, are in the comments of those posts.
Charlotte: 42-40/39-43. Of course, this news changes everything. Now, I say the Bobcats finish 35-47.
Golden State: 36-46/35-47.
LA Clippers: 23-59/19-63.
LA Lakers: 42-40/42-40.