Could the Miami Heat have been the “Big Four?”
I, like everyone else, love to review trades and draft classes, often times tossing out hypotheticals. Seeing that none of us will ever be real general managers outside of playing video games and fantasy basketball, this is what gets my sports jollies off! So sticking with the theme of being a fake general manager, I for whatever reason was high on Michael Beasley this season playing on a Phoenix Suns team that seemed like it had all the opportunity in the world for a swing player of Beasley’s caliber to make a real impact – at least in a fantasy perspective. Then it hit me; Michael Beasley was drafted in the same class as players like, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Love, Eric Gordon, Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert, and O.J. Mayo.
Now, I know Pat Riley had to ship off Michael Beasley to the Minnesota Timberwolves to create an extra $5 million in cap space, but I highly doubt $5 million would have been a deal breaker in bringing in LeBron James and Chris Bosh. I also know that players such as Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo play the two-guard position that Dwyane Wade occupies and Derrick Rose was obviously off the board, being drafted number one overall by the Chicago Bulls. Some would also say O.J. Mayo hasn’t had the career many thought he would, despite his fantastic start to this season. So, for the sake of argument, it’s pretty easy to say Mayo and injury prone Eric Gordon were never going to be looked at seriously because they both play the same position as Dwyane Wade.
Now, this is where the fun starts. The Heat really didn’t have a point guard, unless you want to call the electric combination of Chris Quinn, Marcus Banks, Luther Head and what was left of Shaun Livingston a legit option at the floor general position. So the Heat, with their second draft pick of the 2008 NBA Draft class, took Mario Chalmers. I can’t really knock Chalmers, because he was clutch at Kansas and has been a bona fide point guard thus far over his early career.
But what if they had chosen Russell Westbrook instead of Michael Beasley? Or traded down a spot or two to acquire a future pick or player and taken the UCLA point guard product? Many scouts and analysts would say there would be no way Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook would have been able to play together. They have a strong case, seeing that both players need the ball in their hands and operate from the perimeter. However, couldn’t I counter that with the fact that LeBron James is essentially the same way? It is true that James is a better passer, but it’s not as though Westbrook is incapable of making a bounce or chest pass either. Look, if Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis can have the Milwaukee Bucks at a .500 record and a game out of first place in the Eastern Conference Central Division, I’m sure Westbrook and Wade could do the same. Worst case scenario, the Heat get back more than the second round draft choice they received from the Timberwolves in the Michael Beasley dump off.
So, Westbrook doesn’t tickle your fancy? That’s fine, but how about Kevin Love? It’s debatable, of course, who’s a better fit for the way this current Miami Heat team is constructed. Chris Bosh or Kevin Love? Well, what about both? Both have a nice shooting touch and Love certainly can rebound the basketball and outlet as good as anyone in the game. Which is exactly what the Miami Heat want to do; run and run some more. The Heat are already the league’s best team and defending champions, could they actually have been even scarier? LeBron James, Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Kevin Love as your lineup; what the hell is this, the All-Star game? I think it’s safe to say that nobody would have a legit chance at dethroning the Heat with that lineup.
Remember, this is all hypothetical, and could be said about a plethora of teams in many other draft class years. In fact, the Bulls worked out Michael Beasley and could have easily taken him over Derrick Rose at the time. Who would have criticized them? They could have taken Beasley, a 6’9″ swing player who could score from anywhere on the floor and has handles instead of Rose, the scoring point guard who had a broken jump shot at the time. In which case Derrick Rose would have fallen in the Miami Heat’s lap. So the point is the Chicago Bulls could have made a disastrous choice that we’ve seen many times throughout the years…just ask the Portland Trailblazers.
Oh, what could have been!