- This team was designed by Pat Riley, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, James, and according to the media, Satan himself, to be a contender for many years. The case study is in its infancy.
- If James plays half as well in the Finals as he had all season, the first year of this experiment would have concluded with a championship.
|From left: Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.|
What have we learned? I'll posit questions from the beginning of the year and briefly give conclusions.
Can two ball-dominant slashers, James and Wade, work together? Yes, but not perfectly. An inside/outside combination always works better because it's more balanced. James and Wade tweaked their off-ball games this year to feature more cutting, spot-up shooting and reading of offensive rebounding lanes. However, old habits crept through at times, displaying themselves in the form of the two augmenting the playbook to feature "isolation and hold the ball for 18 seconds before acting" sets. Not very effective basketball.
Will the egos of the three amigos collide or will they remember the sacrifices they promised to make in order to play with each other? To put it simply, they remembered. James and Wade appeared to share the ball in crunch time, too.
What about substitution patterns and minutes distributions? Will their careers be extended because they don't have to lift their teams alone anymore? Well, they carried a heavy burden this year. Spoelstra couldn't afford to really rest his prime players, and without a true post defender, the three stars expended a lot of energy making the defense elite (fifth in defensive rating).
What happens to a superstar's stats when he isn't playing in a single superstar-centric offense anymore? The offensive stats went down a bit for Wade and James and a lot for Bosh. This is related to the first question. When the ball-handlers go to iso-ball, they waste the help they signed up to play with.
The team would be best served obtaining a point guard able and willing to take command of the offense from James and Wade. If Miami runs some actual plays that turn James and Wade into finishers, Miami's offense could get to an all-time level.
The SBCS gets the summer off. Year two will begin...well, with the lockout looming, that's as unpredictable as South Beach itself.