In the year To mark the Miami Heat’s 35th season in 2022-23, the Sun Sentinel is featuring “5 in 35” reflections from staff writer Ira Winderman’s series covering the franchise’s 3 1/2 decades.
After opening the series visually Five great games in the history of the team, Five franchise-changing momentsof the group The biggest celebrity fans, Five big personalities for years, Five Famous Heat Lifers And The rivalry that defined the franchisewe start the position-by-position division with Five best shooting guards, Point guards, A little further, Power forward And Centers Since the beginning of the franchise in 1988, today it has moved on to the sixth major figures over the years.
And, yes, recency bias can be argued, but at least it’s an award-winning recency bias.
1. Tyler Hero. No, this list isn’t about any particular season, but rather the breadth of contributions in the Heat’s career. But exceptions are seen as fair if discovery is part of the equation.
In the 40 years the NBA has named him the Sixth Man of the Year, that designation has come only once, which he did after last season with Hero, when he averaged a league-leading 20.8 points as a reserve and became the first. A player with such stats averages at least 20 points, five rebounds and four assists in less than 10 seasons.
In 2021-22, Dwyane Wade’s Heat broke the single-season record with 20 games of 25 or more points, the league’s most total in the last 30 seasons.
2. Ray Allen. Forget everything else and just remember this: Ray Allen came off the bench on June 18, 2013, the night he made a last-second 3-pointer to force a 6-game overtime in the NBA Finals against the Spurs. Two nights later, the Heat were NBA champions for the second time in the Big Three era.
As it was, Allen started just nine of the Heat’s 152 regular season games, and only one after 43 seasons with the Heat.
Consider the ultimate championship bench addition.
3. Mike Miller. In just 21 games with the Heat in 139 regular seasons and just five in 58 playoff games, the team made the NBA Finals in each of his three seasons, winning 13 titles in 2012 and 2013.
Miller’s energy off the bench was infectious, his game of 3-pointers essential and his ability to hit shots in the finals epic without shoes. It’s the kind of backup that gets the crowd going just to go to the scorers’ table.
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4. Antoine Walker. En route to that season’s championship, Walker, a starter in the 2006 playoffs, started just 34 of 160 regular season games over his two seasons. group.
Walker didn’t do much to ignite the Heat in those seasons other than getting in and out with “tip-toe” layups from away from the 3-point line.
Walker stands as another example of the Heat convincing a former starter to play as a backup and then thrive as a backup.
5. Shane Battier. By the end of his three-year run with the Heat, Battier was moved into more of a starting role, but in his first two seasons, both against the Heat in 2012 and ’13, he made only 30 of 137 regular season appearances as a starter.
Battier wasn’t necessarily a dynamic presence off the bench, but rather a solid force, able to convert timely baskets when needed most, taking on some big individual defensive challenges.
Among those who have provided significant bench heat over the years are Chris Anderson, Eddie Hawes, Udonis Haslem, Norris Cole, Tyler Johnson and Bimbo Coles.
NEXT: As part of Ira Winderman’s Sunday NBA column, we rank the Heat’s all-time teams as the franchise turns 35.