Mostly agree with your rankings; with the optimism bias from being a cardinals fan personally, I'd argue you could make a 1 star increase at each position, but their current rankings are also fair. I very much disagree with the 1 star ranking at special teams however, as we have a pro bowl gunner in Justin Bethel being joined by some high upside athletes in the kick coverage team and kick return game. Probably the best coverage unit in the game, which coupled with a punter who is below average (don't think he's as bad as stats show- his hangtime is rediculous, and it seems the staff went with him for this reason. I'd choose a distance leg with our coverage team, butI digress). In short, I'd say 3 stars is fair. A perfectly average special teams unit, whose only limitation really seems to be Drew Butler's distance and the uncertainty of a new long snapper (but both seem pretty reliable this far)
43. Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU
Since the Heat traded to get Patrick Beverly, I understand why they dealt Thornton to the Hornets. Miami fell in love Beverly after they saw him work out and they could use some depth at the point. (Pick Grade: Makes Sense)
60. Robert Dozier, F, Memphis
Miami has a plethora of small forwards including a tweener-type guy in Michael Beasley, so I am not sure where Dozier fits in that mix. A true post player may have been a better use of this pick. (Pick Grade: Don't Get It)
2009 NBA Offseason Transactions:
Greek Team signs PG Patrick Beverley
Heat acquire SG Quentin Richardson from Timberwolves for C Mark Blount
Cavaliers sign SF Jamario Moon
Heat re-sign C Jamaal Magloire
Heat re-sign C Joel Anthony
Heat acquire PG Patrick Beverley from Lakers for cash and a future second-rounder
Hornets acquire SG Marcus Thornton from Heat for two future second-rounders
Heat PG Chris Quinn exercises player option for 2009-10
2008-09 Season Summary:
With all due respect to LeBron and Kobe, no player carried his team on his back like Dwyane Wade did this season. D-Wade proved that when healthy, he is one of the most dominant, talented all-around players in the league. The Heat tried to find a true compliment player for Wade during the season when they swapped Shawn Marion for Jermaine O'Neal. That deal did not make a major difference as Wade shouldered too big of a load playing alongside a rookie point guard and a handful of guys trying to fill the small forward role. All things aside, Miami exceeded most people's expectations thanks to Wade's almost super-human effort by finishing as the five seed in the Eastern Conference.
2009-10 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Jermaine O'Neal/Jamaal Magloire/Joel Anthony
PF: Udonis Haslem/Michael Beasley/Robert Dozier
SF: James Jones/Dorell Wright/Yakhouba Diawara
SG: Dwyane Wade/Daequan Cook/Quentin Richardson
PG: Mario Chalmers/Chris Quinn
NBA Free Agents:
G Luther Head (UFA)
C Jermaine O'Neal (PO)
2009-10 Team Salary: Approximately $69.6 million
2009-10 Expected League Salary Cap: $57.3 million
NBA Offseason Needs:
1. Re-sign D-Wade - When Dee-wyane Wade came out of Marquette six years ago, even I (a Marquette grad and die-hard fan) never expected Wade to become this type of player. Look at his numbers from last year: 30.2 points, 7.5 assists, 5 rebounds, 2.19 steals, 1.34 blocks per game. It is pretty safe the keys to this franchise are his to have for as long as he wants. While Wade does not become a free agent until the much anticipated 2010 off-season, the Heat need to do everything in their powers to lock up Wade before next season begins. Pat Riley has already publicly stated that Miami hopes to get a deal done before the start of next season as to avoid any distractions during the year. Plus, a lot of teams have been planning to be well under the cap next off-season in hopes of plucking away a player like Wade. Riley cannot let that happen and needs to lock up the King of South Beach as soon as humanly possible.
2. Find Wade some help - While it is an absolute luxury for a team to have a superstar like Wade, he simply cannot do it all by himself. Neither the O'Neal acquisition nor drafting Michael Beasley with the second pick in last year's draft provided the boost the Heat, or more so Wade, needed. Problem is, trading Shawn Marion and his expiring contract for O'Neal, who is due almost $23 million this season in the final year of his massively overpriced deal, gives Miami zero cap flexibility to bring in a much needed compliment. The Heat also do not have a first round pick meaning if they are to improve their roster, it would have to come via trade, which is never easy in the NBA these days. They need to hope O'Neal stays healthy and can be the low post presence he was back in the day when he was a Pacer or that Beasley shows some consistency and produces on a nightly basis.
3. Defensive big - It is never a good sign when your team signs Jamaal Magloire to help fill the void for a defensive-minded, physical big. While Joel Anthony did a decent job in his limited role, he is not a long-term solution. Guys like O'Neal, Udonis Haslem, and Beasley are more offensive-minded forwards and do not provide that physical aggressiveness on defense. If the Heat can find a Chris Andersen-type to bring off the bench and play 12-15 minutes a night, it would be a very smart acquisition.
4. A veteran point guard - Rookie Mario Chalmers was thrust into the starting point guard position because he was really the only option. At times Chalmers showed signs of being a long-term solution, but was also hampered with stretches of inconsistent play. Chris Quinn should not be playing major minutes for any NBA team, so the Heat would be wise to pursue a veteran point guard who can be a floor general and also help mentor Chalmers.