The Brooklyn Nets loaded up for an Eastern Conference run, and Pat Riley countered by covering the Heats’ one weakness by bringing in a big center who could be the league’s best defensive rebounder and shot blocker when on the court. Miami’s one weakness in 2013 was a lack of bulk under the basket that Roy Hibbert and then Tim Duncan exploited.
The Heat took almost no risk in winning out over five other teams for the services of Greg Oden, the former No. 1 overall pick who has sat out over three years with injuries but appears ready to return by early in the 2013-14 season. Oden was never a character risk. In fact, Robert Flores at ESPN tweeted out a link to the old commercial in which Oden poked fun at how boring he was.
No one is going to simply back Oden down for lay-up after lay-up, or routinely take several shots a trip as they continue to grab offensive rebounds.
In Oden’s last season, he grabbed 28.3 percent of all opponents’ missed 2-point shots, better than even the top defensive rebounder in the league this year, Dwight Howard (27.4 percent).
Oden also blocked 7.7 percent of all opponents two-point shots in his last season, better than anyone in the league this year except for defensive reserve specialist Javale McGee of Denver, and just ahead of Larry Sanders (7.6), Tim Duncan (7.6), Serge Ibaka (7.4) and Roy Hibbert (6.7). While the Heat are unlikely to play the Nuggets in the playoffs, that means they could have a guy who can match the Bucks, Spurs, Thunder and Pacers big men respectively – all teams Miami has had to beat en route to two straight titles.
The Heat do not need another starter, or scorer for that matter. They needed to fix the one match-up problem that had sunk them for stretches of games.
At 22 years old in his last season, Oden played just under half a game on average, and scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds per game. Normally a player would improve substantially until he is 25, though Oden may not due to the injuries. However, if the Heat have the option of putting him into playoff games and getting anywhere near that total, then there one weakness would seem to disappear.
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