A new era for the Miami Heat began with a preseason loss to the Orlando Magic, but the ability of Chris Bosh and Luol Deng (not so much Dwyane Wade at this point) was more than pleasing, as the ghost of LeBron James hovered in the arena.
Bosh scored 18 points, playing as a center, while Luol Deng added 18 as well. The Miami Heat were playing without Josh McRoberts and Udonis Haslem, which meant their ability and quality at the power forward position was seriously hindered. Dwyane Wade had 11 points on 5-of-10 from the field, and it’ll be interesting to see if his plan to rest less this season, hoping to play in every game if his knees allow him to, doesn’t get sidetracked along the way.
Norris Cole was the one who started at point guard, scoring two points but also adding six assists, getting to touch the ball a lot more than he or Mario Chalmers were used to during the LeBron James era. Chalmers came off the bench to score 10 points, looking a lot more aggressive when attacking the basket than we’re used to see from him, although he did hit just 2-of-8 from the field in what seems to be his new role for the team.
Shabazz Napier was also someone worth monitoring and watching. He was picked, allegedly, in hope of satisfying LeBron James, who preferred the UConn point guard over other, maybe more obvious choices as a late first round pick. Napier had a rough time in the Summer League, and now he’s not going to be James’ teammate. He had four points on 1-of-6 from the field, but many think that the ability and attitude he has showed in the Final Four will eventually come out during his time in the NBA.
As for the Magic, most eyes went to Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton. Gordon scored six points and is going to struggle with his shot this season, but added 8 rebounds and some very good defense. Payton, the second rookie worth watching on this team, played 32 minutes and dished out 7 assists, but his shot was all over the place (1-of-7 from the field). Overall, it’s probably going to be another season of some flashy moments for the Orlando Magic, but unlikely to result in substantial success.
The Miami Heat lost but it doesn’t matter. They’re about creating a new identity. Chris Bosh getting used to being the main scoring option once again and for Luol Deng to recover what he lost last year in confidence and production after traded from the Chicago Bulls. If those things click quickly and Dwyane Wade remains healthy, there’s not going to be too much of a dropoff for a team getting used to playing without the biggest star in the league.