Miami Heat: Just How Vital Is Mike Bibby to Miami’s Offense?

March 3rd, 2011 by John Friel Leave a reply »

When the season began, we knew that the Miami Heat would encounter some sort of flaws in their system. The obvious lack of a capable big man or point guard was clear and apparent, but in no way was this supposed to drastically affect how the team’s success.

Why would they? Pat Riley just pulled off the greatest coup in NBA history by re-signing Dwyane Wade and then signing the reigning two-time MVP in LeBron James in addition to Chris Bosh, who had just averaged a career high 24 points per game.

It was believed that Riley could just surround the big three with a D-League team, and they would still have no trouble running the league for the next six years. Even then, the Heat easily signed a decent roster with the acquisition of Mike Miller and Zydrunas Ilgauskas headlining the new players and Udonis Haslem representing the second biggest re-signing in Miami. A core of James, Wade, and Bosh with Haslem and Miller as the first two players off the bench? What more could one ask for?

Looking at it now, however, we could probably make a Christmas list of what this team needs. We realized a few days into the season that Bosh—or any center for that matter—was hardly the answer of having a rebounding, defensive presence in the middle.

Miami suffered for a few weeks before signing free agent Erick Dampier to address the needs in the middle. He has since removed the starting job and has become more of an asset than we expected as he provides the Heat with size, rebounding and hands that can actually catch the ball and finish.

The center position still has its issues, but it carries nowhere near the same negativity that the point guard spot brings to just about every game. We imagined that just about anyone can run the point on this team, and we even heard jokes declaring the Heat would have “run-the-point-nights” where one lucky fan would serve as the team’s point guard for the night.

When Carlos Arroyo, Mario Chalmers and Eddie House were declared the official rotation, we could only imagine how much their stats would inflate because of the big three’s presence.

Since then, the Heat have gone through a few starting lineup changes and have since released Arroyo in favor of signing 32-year old Mike Bibby.

Wait, what happened? The Heat are at 43-17 and they’ve had their struggles, but is this team actually trying to say for the second time this season that the big three aren’t enough to win a title? The Dampier signing was mostly used to address the need for size in the middle for a few moments during the game. However, the recent Bibby signing seems more like a cry for help than anything. It’s become painfully obvious that the Heat require a quality point guard to run the team.

Carlos Arroyo was hardly an answer. Although he could rarely create his own shot, he played less-than-tremendous defense and didn’t pass that efficiently either. When Arroyo faltered, the Heat turned to one of their youngest players in Chalmers to take over the role of floor general.

Mario has been performing admirably lately, but his inability to play smart at key moments has affected the way the team has envisioned him. Despite being a legitimate three-point threat and defender, it’s clear that Mario wasn’t exactly the answer quite yet.

He’ll get plenty of help with Bibby possibly giving him some veteran advice. The point guard position has become one of the most complex positions on this team, as it has basically became useless in most instances.

On some occasions, Chalmers or Arroyo would be on the floor, but it would still be Wade or James taking the ball up the court and directing the offense. It’s a sign of a lack of confidence the team has in their point guards and a sign of desperation that the team needs Wade and James to basically do everything from scoring to dictating the flow of the offense.

Enter Mike Bibby. He’s a 13-year veteran who was recently traded by the Atlanta Hawks, bought out by the Washington Wizards and was finally signed by the Heat.  He has career averages of 15 points, six assists, and three rebounds per game and was a vital player to a number of the Sacramento Kings playoff runs in the late 2000s. While he hasn’t had the greatest of seasons over the past two years, he has still made at least two three-pointers per game on at least 39% shooting.

His scoring isn’t what brought him to the team, though; it was his passing and his ability to lead an offense. Arroyo, Chalmers, and even House don’t carry the same abilities in being able to lead this team compared to Bibby. He has experience with superstars, being able to co-exist and make the offense more efficient.

He affects the offense by being a legitimate shooting threat who can attract some attention, while also being able to find his star-studded teammates for easier scores rather than having them all try to create their own shot.

Having a team with three players that thrive off of creating their own shots causes obvious problems; each player can’t have the ball on every other possession. What Bibby brings is a greater chance that the team can make chemistry and speed up the cohesion process in time for the post season, while also stopping players from dominating the ball. LeBron James has played Cleveland-ball a few times over the past few games causing the offense to regress to a James centered universe.

The big three was a step in the right direction, but it wasn’t the answer. We should have realized that there would be offensive issues with Wade and James in the same starting lineup. By bringing in Bibby, dominating the ball should be a thing of the past as they allow a veteran floor leader to dictate and run the offense at his pace. James and Wade can learn to play off the ball more, and we can possibly see two slashers actually drive instead of taking jump shots.

Bibby is only an answer for the moment, considering his play has deteriorated as a result of his age. This was a sign of weakness by Miami to come out and openly pursue players like Bibby, Dampier, and Troy Murphy, but they have turned out to become necessities. While one cannot expect huge numbers from Bibby, it’s what he brings to the table as a veteran point guard that is key.

Bibby will be a vital part of this team in the remaining regular season, including this ridiculous stretch the team is about to encounter, but will become a huge piece come postseason.

It wouldn’t have been reassuring to know that Mario Chalmers was leading the offense with Eddie House and Carlos Arroyo as his backups. Predominantly, now, it will be Bibby with the ball in his hands throwing alley-oops to Wade and James. With veteran experience and leadership, maybe now we can see the offense than we envisioned.

One more desperate jumper by LeBron or Dwyane at the end of a shot clock and I think I was going to lose it.


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