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Can The Heat Make the Playoffs Sans LeBron?

Right after part two of LeBron James' "Decision", Las Vegas odds for the Cleveland Cavaliers vaulted to 4-1, the favorites to win the league. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat dropped to 100-to-1 odds for winning it all. However, in a Miami Heat era without LeBron, could the Heat feasibly make the playoffs?

PG: The PG field is pretty crowded with Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, and Shabazz Napier all in the running for minutes. Seems like Rotoworld wants to crown Chalmers the starter, but I wouldn't be surprised if Cole did. Napier has struggled during the summer league offensively, but should work out as a nice draft pick.

Chalmers struggled at times last season, but he could also be better if he was handed the reigns since LeBron left.

Cole was promising in his playing time, and is on the books for only $2.15 million this year, and has a $3.2 million Qualifying Offer next.

SG: Dwayne Wade opted out of his contract and Ray Allen is reportedly considering retirement along with considering the Heat as well as possibly even the Cavaliers. However, Wade's not going anywhere, and he may take significantly less money to win now with a rebuilt team in a very, very deep Free Agent market. I'm going to make a bold call and say that James Ennis will be called up from the D-League and become an in-house solution for the aging D-Wade/Ray Allen problem.

SF: The Heat were aggressive in signing three small forwards. They say that Josh McRoberts is a stretch four, but really he's just a scoring forward, however you play it. They brought in dependable Luol Deng to be a jack-of-all-trades, and Deng can project to earn plenty of playing time here in Miami. Finally, they also nabbed Danny Granger to fill in for the team.

PF/C: Chris Andersen has resigned with the Heat, and McRoberts could play in a stretch four role here. Udonis Haslem probably won't go anywhere else either, so pencil him in here, too. Most obviously, Chris Bosh will command minutes on the court, but whether he is the PF/C while on the court is less certain.

Minutes Per Game projection:
PG: Chalmers: 21 minutes, Cole 20 minutes, Napier: 8 minutes - total: 49 minutes

SG: Dwayne Wade: 34 minutes, James Ennis 13 minutes - total: 47 minutes

SF: Luol Deng: 34 minutes, Danny Granger: 15 minutes - total: 48 minutes

PF/C: Josh McRoberts: 27 minutes, Chris Bosh: 33 minutes, Udonis Haslem: 16 minutes, Chris Birdman Andersen: 20 minutes  - total: 96 minutes

There will be times when two PG's are in the game (when Wade is out), but there could also be times when Wade is the ballhandler and Deng scoots over to the two to get McRoberts a little bit of time at SF. But most likely, you'll see a combo of PG, Wade, Deng, McRoberts, and Bosh.

Projected finish: Regular Season 45-37, 5 seed in the playoffs. 


ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

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