The Heat Just Want to Watch the World Burn

Been a nice couple of days, right?

Derek Fisher slung some heartstring-tugging verbiage. Big Daddy Phil and he are in lock-step. All is right in Knick-ville, si?

Let’s just enjoy the finals and see what else is…OHMIGOD. MELO TO THE HEAT. PANIC. Here’s all the Rangarok-y details, via a report by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein.

Hi Pat Riley. I hate you, Pat Riley. Now that that’s out of my system, let’s try to break this down. Realistically, the chances of Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joining forces is slim to none. In order to fit under the cap, all four would have to take salary cuts in the tens of millions over the next few years. Although Wade’s begun to deteriorate along with some key role players, the Heat have been to back-to-back-to-back-to-back Finals. Miami’s current big three would have to believe they need Anthony to continue competing, or find it extremely appealing to play with their former Olympic teammate, money be damned.

Melo himself would have to sacrifice a massive chunk of income in pursuit of a championship as well as his image. In the end, it only takes one of these four not being fond of the idea to effectively kill it. Theoretically, the Heat could part ways with either Wade or Bosh and replace them with Anthony, but this would be an even crazier idea considering the ties Wade and Bosh have to the franchise and their fellow stars.

So, yes, Miami being able to ink Anthony AND James AND Wade AND Bosh is a long shot. But if they were able to, it’s hard to envision anybody stopping them.

The league’s fifth best offense in terms of efficiency would bring on one of the most lethal scorers in basketball to play in his optimal role. One of Miami’s current weaknesses is the stretch four position, a vital cog of their space-heavy system. In years past, Shane Battier was a step quicker and a more consistent shooter, making him a capable suitor. Battier shot 43% from downtown last season, a number that slipped to a below average 34.8% clip in 2014. His spot was taken over by Rashard Lewis – who has been an improvement – but Lewis’s jumper still doesn’t demand the amount of attention necessary to open up more lanes for Miami. This hole doesn’t seem like a real vulnerability because with the game on the line, MIami’s gone to their “game over” lineup of James at the four with Wade and Ray Allen on the wings.

Enter Carmelo Anthony, who had the best season of his career in 2013 playing at power forward. We first saw a glimpse of his ability to space the floor and drill catch-and-shoot jumpers in the 2012 Olympics, where he finished with 130 points on 86 shots, making half of his threes and setting the nation of Nigeria ablaze to the tune of 37 points. The season following, Anthony shouldered the load for the Knicks offensively at the four, nearly doing the work of two players in terms of usage rate (35.6% – distributed evenly, all five players on the court should take up 20%) when he was on the floor. He tallied a career-high in three-point attempt rate and three-point percentage (37.9%) despite the sheer amount of offensive output. Melo boosted the latter number to 40.2% this season, or 43.8% if you specify catch-and-shoot threes via SportVU. That’s lights out.

Now imagine this ability in Miami, with the most transcendent superstar of this era that plays pass-first and does so better than almost anybody at his size in history, the best floor-spacing five the NBA has to offer and yet another ball handler that creates well for others. What separates Anthony from Battier or Lewis isn’t just his edge in accuracy, but that opponents can’t just close hard on him and have to respect his ability to step in for a mid-range shot or drive to the cup.

Forget schemes for a second. Though, remember them later, because a good part of Anthony’s iso-heavy ways have been the product of a coach that has a reputation for loving isolation offense. Picture LeBron running a simple pick and pop with Chris Bosh as Chalmers, Allen and Carmelo are stationed behind the arc. How do you stop that? Help and it’s an open three. Don’t and James puts you on a SportsCenter reel. It’s laughably unfair. It’s Grand Theft Auto with a God Mode cheat. It’ll be the The Dream Team v. Nigeria for 82+ games. Cats and Dogs, living together.

But Carmelo wants the ball in his hands! He loves isolating and hates passing! Why would he ever subject himself to this?

Because he did it during the 2012 London Olympics, for a piece of jewelry he already won in 2008. Yes, the entire team was stacked with talent he wouldn’t want to tick off, but Miami has the star of stars in LeBron James and the championship pedigree to back it up. Besides, it’s not as if Anthony won’t get any chances to create his own shots.

One of Erik Spoelstra’s best strategies is that he rarely if ever rolls with a unit sans one of his three headliners. Spo can have Anthony be the first of the four to sub out of the first quarter, returning as the second period begins to command a bench unit. The offense can be all his for this stretch and a similar one in the second half. Factor in the bailout attempts he’ll be given with the shot clock running down, and he’s probably not going to lose a ton of attempts.

I’m not the only one trembling in the wake of this offensive superpower. “The Heat’s offense would be literally unguardable,” according to Sean Highkin in a piece on Sports on Earth. “And James might average a triple-double with the extra assist opportunities.”  Tom Ziller adds, “You could start Toney Douglas and play 4-on-5 on offense without concern against 27 or so teams,”  

As for defense, within the Heat system, all he has to do is give them what Rashard Lewis/Mike Miller have done, Melo ranked 16th in post defense per Synergy Sports, holding opponents to .64 points per play (or 35% shooting) down low. Anthony is a capable help defender when engaged, especially since adding his funky swipe block thing. Having to take on much fewer duties on offense in Miami means there’s a chance Anthony could be more active defensively. LeBron’s voice in his ear might prevent Anthony’s lapses on that end as well.

This is, admittedly, more conjecture than fact, but it’s by no means outlandish to expect. There are probably two offenses Miami’s defense wouldn’t be equipped to handle with Melo in the game, in which scenario the Heat can just resort back to their Bron-at-the-four lineup.

Anthony also brings an added edge to the glass, where Miami’s struggled this season. The Heat rank 29th in offensive rebound rate and 24th in defensive rebound rate, a purposeful negligence of the boards implemented by Spoelstra. Anthony’s 7.5 rebounds a game this year would have led the Heat, despite his playing a good amount of time at the small forward and the board-gobbling of Tyson Chandler. Miami is by no means desperate for rebounds, but Anthony’s excellence in the aspect would certainly help. Melo’s quick second jumping on the offensive glass can create more offensive possessions for the Heat, and he’s no slouch on the defensive boards either.

It would be a stretch to get there, but Anthony coming together with Wade, Bosh and James in Miami would be the death of everything, all things. Their offense would set fire to the Earth’s atmosphere and cause lava to rain down from the heavens. This wouldn’t just be a gut punch to Knicks fans, but to the other 28 NBA teams. Luckily, the process of making this happen is convoluted and probably isn’t going to happen.

Then again, that’s what we said back in 2010. [Time to hit the Inception button!]

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David Vertsberger

David Vertsberger considers himself a precocious neophyte, writing for ESPN TrueHoop site HawksHoop as well as Hickory-High. A member of the younger generation of Knickerbocker fans, his fondest memories of years past have been the trade for Larry Hughes and Nate Robinson scoring 41 following a month-long benching.

32 thoughts to “The Heat Just Want to Watch the World Burn”

  1. The only upside is it would show the NBA how stupid it was to demand maximum salaries in the first place.

  2. Interestingly enough, Miami’s team TS% is higher than Carmelo’s. But assuming he’s taking shots from Norris Cole and Rashard Lewis, that would be a filthy offense when Wade was healthy.

  3. The 3-4 PnR or Pick and Pop smh. Ouch. Oh and Bosh will have his man at the 3 point line…..good luck. Oh and watch for wade off the ball and Ray Allen/Cole spotted up for 3

  4. If Pat Riley pulls this off, then he will eclipse R.C. Buford for greatest NBA executive of this century.

    If Melo does this, I will not be mad. It will be just as if he pooped in the refrigerator and ate a whole wheel of cheese.

    Click through my name to get to my blog.

  5. Spurs humming again. Miami should trade Bosh before everyone figures out he not that good

  6. Patty Mills is definitely the greatest indigenous Australian basketball player of all time

  7. I love how we’re talking about how the heat’s big 3 will take pay cuts as if Wade is still actually a max player. Now that Amare is an expiring, I think Wade may have the worst contract in the NBA. 2 years, $40mm is crazy. His contract and the fact that it may be politically impossible to trade him is why LeBron might leave. He can’t carry that carcass two more years. And they talk about all three of them taking a cut to make room for Melo? If I’m LeBron I’m like “let Wade take the cut”.

  8. I love how we’re talking about how the heat’s big 3 will take pay cuts as if Wade is still actually a max player. Now that Amare is an expiring, I think Wade may have the worst contract in the NBA. 2 years, $40mm is crazy. His contract and the fact that it may be politically impossible to trade him is why LeBron might leave. He can’t carry that carcass two more years. And they talk about all three of them taking a cut to make room for Melo? If I’m LeBron I’m like “let Wade take the cut”.

    From a detached perspective, definitely, but I think Lebron’s viewpoint is that he’ll be gaining more money in the long term by taking a cut in salary if it means winning more games and titles due to endorsements and stuff like that. His endorsement angle, though, is hurt if he ever made Wade take a bigger pay cut than him.

  9. I really wish I could see how much winning additional championships would help Lebron financially. It’s an interesting argument but one that’s just hard to really understand without knowing a lot of factors.

  10. Were the Heat fans booing?

    Spoiled schmucks. I hope Tony Douglas is their best player next year.

  11. Watching the Heat get their asses kicked is so much fun, I hope they lose this in 5 and we get to see Riley in full panic mode.

  12. I’m not really convinced the Heat are just going to roll over here still. I’ll wait until it’s actually over. Superstition and all, because you know how much me talking shit at home on my laptop affects the outcome of this game and series.

  13. If you’re Carmelo would you give up millions to play with Lebron and a bunch of scrubs?

  14. Please remember that Boris Diaw was waived by the Charlotte Bobcats in March 2012. Tim Duncan prevailed upon Popovich and Buford to bring him in. Any team could have had Diaw at the trade deadline in 2012.

    My point, and I do have one, is that as much as some people like to ascribe everything to talent, coaching and scheme matter.

  15. The highlight of the night for me was JVG giving a shout-out to Charlie Ward and Chris Childs for the way they defended Mark Jackson.

  16. I would be stunned if Lebron left, but it’s inane to think he could have been booed during his last home game for Miami

  17. Ten things I learned from watching the Spurs:

    10. Your best offensive player does not have to play 42 mpg.
    9. Ball movement can exploit mismatches at least as well as isolation.
    8. Good defense comes from 5 players moving in concert, not free lance attempts at steals and blocks.
    7. An open shot is a good shot.
    6. A contested shot is a bad shot.
    5. There is no rule that you must dribble at least six times before starting the offense.
    4. Running out on offense pays dividends.
    3. A good system can take advantage of a flawed (even fat) player’s skills and hide his deficits.
    2. There are offensive sets that can exploit a team that fronts the post.
    1. Any player in the rotation can be the hero.

  18. I learned that Boris Diaw is immune to double teams and can split them to make a pass at will.

    In a dream of the future Lamar Odom becomes the triangle version of Boris. lol.

  19. I learned that Dwyane Wade would have to be very financially secure to opt out of 2 yrs, $41m this summer.

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