Miami Heat: Team Season Awards
By Nekias Duncan: Staff Writer @ Hoopstuff…
With the regular season coming to a close, and the Playoffs set to start this weekend, it’s a fair time to hand out team awards. Currently locked into the second seed, and riding another 50-win season, the Miami Heat have had a productive, but sluggish regular season.Miami showed flashes of excellence, but ultimately coasted through most of the year.
Best Player: LeBron James
Stats: 27.1 ppg (1st), 6.9 rpg (1st). 6.4 apg (1st), 1.6 spg (T-1st), 0.3 bpg (T-7th), 56.7% FG (3rd), 37.9% 3PT (4th), 75% FT (7th)
This selection doesn’t need much explaining. LeBron James is, at worst, a top-two player in the entire NBA, and is the engine that makes Miami go. James is the only player in the league leading his team in points, rebounds, and assists, and considering he’s tied for the team steals lead with Mario Chalmers, his defensive impact is felt on the team as well. LeBron’s numbers are basically down across the board from last season outside of his scoring and field goal percentage,but so was his effort this year. LeBron’s defensive effort simply wasn’t there for most of the year, and Miami’s team defensive numbers took a hit because of it. Regardless, James played much better (and harder) on both ends of the court over the last couple of months (27.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 6.2 apg, 119 ORtg, 106 DRtg since March 1st), and that should bode well come playoff-time.
MVP: Chris Bosh
Stats: 16.2 ppg (3rd), 6.6 rpg (2nd), 1.1 apg (7th), 1 spg (4th), 1 bpg (2nd), 51.6% FG (5th), 33.9% 3PT (9th), 82% FT (3rd)
If we’re being completely honest about it, Chris Bosh has always been the most valuable member of the Big Three when you look at it from an on-court perspective. Offensively, he’s had to sacrafice his touches and, at the same time, expand his game more than anyone. Dwyane Wade was the one that lured James and Bosh here, and James is the best player quite easily, but it’s Bosh who makes the thing work.
His mid-range (career 45.6% FG shooter between 16-22 feet), and now three-point range provides the floor spacing necessary for the Heat offense to be as deadly as it is. Bosh went 50-168 (29.8%) from three during his seven-year stint with the Raptors; he’s 74-218 (33.9%) THIS SEASON. Bosh not only had to extend his range (his average shot distance is 11.8 ft during his stint in Miami — 13.8 ft this season — compared to 9.6 ft during his stint in Toronto), but also beef up to play as the “center” in Miami’s offense — according to Basketball Reference, Bosh has played 88% of his minutes at center over the last two seasons, compared to 61% during his career in Toronto. Bosh has become a very good help defender in Miami’s frenetic scheme, meaning he’s giving Miami two-way impact that’s needed despite being the 3rd scoring option behind Wade and James. Chris Bosh never gets enough credit for what he’s done since joining the Heat, so it’s only fitting he gets this well-deserved, albeit fictional award.
Most Improved Player (MIP): Mario Chalmers
Last Year’s Stats: 8.6 ppg, 3.5 apg, 2.2 rpg, 1.5 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.6 tpg, 42.9% FG, 40.9% 3PT, 79.5% FT
This Year’s Stats: 9.8 ppg, 4.9 apg, 2.9 rpg, 1.6 spg, 0.2 bpg, 2.2 tpg, 45.3% FG, 38.5% 3PT, 74.2% FT
Make no mistake about it; Mario Chalmers is still the Heat’s whipping boy if you will. He and LeBron James have that big brother-little brother bond where they always seem to be bickering with each other, but the love between the two are strong. Because of his role and the other talent on this team, the base statistics won’t properly show how good of a point guard Mario Chalmers is. Chalmers has grown as a decision-maker and as a player overall. His assists have jumped up to its highest amount since he nearly averaged 5 a game in his rookie season in 08-09, the same season Dwyane Wade had the best post-Jordan season of any SG when he averaged 30.2-5-7.5-2.2-1.3. Chalmers still has his moments where he forces an issue or two, but he’s cut down on his foul trouble issues that have plagued him the last two seasons. He’s playing a little smarter on both ends, taking better shots, and as a result, his numbers have seen solid improvement. More than likely, Chalmers can give a team around 14 points and 6 assists as a traditional starting PG. He won’t get to man the ball as long as the Big Three are on the roster. But that’s okay. Mario Chalmers, like Chris Bosh to a lesser extent, has grown more comfortable — and reliable — in a reduced role.
Most Valuable Reserve (MVR) & Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY): Chris Andersen
Stats: 6.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.3 apg, 1.4 bpg, 0.4 spg, 64.4% FG, 71% FT
Andersen is the only player on the team taking home two awards, and deservedly so.
He’s the energy big, and has been Miami’s most reliable rim protector as he led the team in blocks per game. Anderson is one of three bench players (Taj Gibson and Timofey Mozgov) — 15 players overall — to average at least 1 bpg and have opponents shoot under 48% FG at the rim against them. Quite frankly, Andersen makes a bit of a difference for Miami, shown by his +1.6 on-off rating this year, compared to it being -0.2 last year. In most cases, Andersen is on the court with Miami’s 4th quarter unit (Allen-Wade-LeBron-Bosh; Chalmers-Allen when Wade is out). Spoelstra trusts Andersen, as he should.
The Alonzo Mourning Leadership Award: Udonis Haslem
This award was a late addition — late, as in “let me add this in before I send this to the editor. Regardless, Udonis Haslem more than deserves this award for being an outstanding locker room presence, and continuing to exemplify the grit-and-grind Miami Heat culture of old. Haslem started off the season banged up, and didn’t really crack the rotation until after the All-Star break. Instead of complaining about it, Haslem just continued to tell people that the Heat would need him eventually. Sure enough, Haslem has been a much needed presence on the defensive end, with his most notable performance coming against Roy Hibbert during Miami’s 98-86 victory over the Pacers on April 11th.
Haslem has been more than an undersized, put-the-POW-in-power forward off the bench for Miami. He’s been a mentor to the oft-troubled Michael Beasley, who has seemingly taken Udonis Haslem’s spot on the bench. He’s been an emotional pillar for Miami. He hasn’t needed touches to do so — just grit and effort. That is the reason why Miami wouldn’t trade Haslem to bring in Evan Turner before Indiana eventually did so. Although Haslem’s base stats aren’t much to be in awe of (3.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg in 14.2 mpg), one statistic worth mentioning is his 1,510 career offensive rebounds, which is 1st in Heat franchise history. The man he passed? Alonzo Mourning. How fitting is that?