Miami Heat Index: Dorell Wright

LeBron James
Rocky Widner/Getty Images
LeBron and the Heat look to soar to a 9-1 record against the Warriors. Should Wade take flight, too?

The Warriors and the Heat might be separated by conferences, but they share this commonality: they have been missing one of their top guards. Dwyane Wade and Stephen Curry have each been battling foot injuries -- Wade's left foot and Curry's right ankle to be exact -- but the Heat have held out hope that Wade can play Tuesday; the Warriors will be without Curry again.

The Warriors could certainly use Curry, as the 2-6 club will have their hands full against a Heat team that has trampled opponents as of late -- with or without Wade. For Tuesday night's matchup, Wade is considered a gametime decision.

Would Wade be wise to try to give it a go? Is Monta Ellis better than Chris Bosh? Would Steph Curry be an ideal fit for the Heat? Were the Heat wise to let Dorell Wright walk? Do the Heat have a chance at winning twice as many games as the Warriors this season?

In another edition of the Heat Index's 5-on-5 series, our stable of writers play some "Fact or Fiction" with some of the story lines surrounding the Heat-Warriors matchup.

1. Fact or Fiction: Dwyane Wade should suit up tonight.


Tom Haberstroh, Heat Index: Fiction. Let LeBron James and Chris Bosh continue to show what we would've missed if the Cavs traded for Bosh instead of Antawn Jamison in 2009-10. The Heat need Wade for Wednesday's tilt against the Clippers and an immediate back-to-back sounds like a recipe for re-aggravation.

Jorge Sedano, ESPN radio/790 the Ticket: Fiction. The Warriors are missing Curry, arguably the best shooter in the game. Wade's injury seems more significant than the Heat led on initially. So, one more game of rest before Lob City and the Mile High altitude won't hurt the Heat here. Grab your best Armani suit and take a seat on the bench.

Ethan Sherwood Strauss, WarriorsWorld/HoopSpeak: Fiction. As a non-medical doctor, I believe Wade will be fine if he puts a few leeches on the foot. But after consulting some doctor friends ... it seems best to rest a possible plantar fasciitis. Also, Wade might hurt himself stomping on Monta's throat.

Michael Wallace, Heat Index: Fiction. While I find it hard to believe that neither Wade nor the team know exactly what he's dealing with regarding the foot injury, I do believe that the best option right now is to sit him until whatever it is has a chance to completely heal. This sounds similar to an injury Tim Duncan had a few seasons ago in San Antonio that affected him at least a month. We'll see with Wade, but it's smarter to err on the side of caution.

Brian Windhorst, Heat Index: Fiction. There is simply no reason. This injury is more serious than anyone thought and it is taking longer to heal and it has Wade concerned. There will be times when the Heat can't afford to give Wade rest, now they can.



2. Fact or Fiction: Monta Ellis is the third-best player on these two rosters.


Haberstroh: Fiction. Fans are obsessed with points per game like a mosquito to a light zapper, but the red flags surrounding Ellis' game are real. He's launching over 20 field goals per game and shooting 41.8 percent from the floor and a grotesque 23.5 percent from downtown. Give me Bosh, who has become a more-than-solid two-way player, and I'll show you winning basketball.

Sedano: Fiction. Did Shaq sneak this question in here? Ellis is an elite scorer at a highly competitive position. But, if there's a position that's just as competitive, it's power forward. If you crunch the numbers, Bosh's production has been superb on both ends of the floor. Can't say the same for Monta. The Atlanta game is a reminder that Bosh is an elite player in this league. Yeah, I'm talking to you, Shaq.

Strauss: Fiction. I'll take the taller guy who makes All Star teams (Bosh). There is a wrinkle here, because Ellis often plays masterfully in a season's beginning, before teams remember how to play him. Monta might have the edge, but it is an edge that quickly dulls.

Wallace: Fiction. I absolutely love Monta's talent, effort and heart. I've seen him develop from a high school sophomore to one of the most productive guards in the NBA. Although I strongly disagree, some might try to convince you that Monta isn't even the best player on his team. But I've always preferred a gifted "big" over a gifted guard. So I'd say Chris Bosh is the third-best player on these rosters. It's close, but I'd take Bosh by about 10 inches.

Windhorst: Fiction. Ellis is super-talented and he certainly feels he's a great player. But he's never been able to lift his team and never been able to set a defensive example. Chris Bosh led the Raptors to the playoffs on his own with less talent than Ellis has had over the last few years. In addition, it is hard to overlook some of the decisions Ellis has made off the court in his career.



3. Fact or Fiction: Of all young guards, Steph Curry is best fit for the Heat.


Haberstroh: Fact. If you went into a basketball lab to build a point guard to amplify the Big Three and their high-flying attack, you'd probably build Steve Nash. But if you want to find the youngster who fits the mold of sharpshooting, creativity and speed, good luck finding someone better suited for the job than Curry.

Sedano: Fiction. Picture this, Sicily, 1939... Wait! Sorry, the Golden Girls was on the TV set. I mean, my wife left the Golden Girls on. Anyhow, picture Ricky Rubio making those insane passes to the two best transition players in the game. How great would the Heat's "Quack Attack" Offense look with Ricky pulling the strings? Plus, he's shooting well. Small sample size, I know. But, c'mon!

Strauss: Fact, and let's pretend Curry's ankle tendons don't comprise a wobbling Jenga tower. A healthy Steph provides Miami with spacing, 3-point shooting -- just what they need. As for his defense? The shimmering vision of a LeBron-Steph pick-and-roll is the best defense against nagging defense questions.

Wallace: Fiction. I understand the intrigue with Curry. But I'll reserve judgment on him until he's consistently able to stay on the court. These ankle sprains are a chronic concern. I don't buy that he'd be a better fit on the Heat than, say, MVP Derrick Rose. What does "fit" actually mean anyway at this level? Being "effective" is far more vital. Just think about it this way: had the Heat drafted Rose in 2008, there might not have been a need to get LeBron here.

Windhorst: Fiction. I would not take any guard in the league over Derrick Rose right now just on principle. But of all the guards who have come into the league in the last three years, Curry is probably the best pure shooter and that is what would have the most value next to Wade and LeBron James. So the Heat might maximize their team if they had a player like Curry. But Rose is Rose.



4. Fact or Fiction: Miami was wise to let Dorell Wright go.


Haberstroh: Fact. Wright thrived in his role as a downtown sniper for the Warriors last season, but he wouldn't be getting 14 shots a game on the Heat and he most certainly wouldn't be averaging 38 minutes a game. As a starter for an organization in rebuild, you could do worse than Wright. But the Heat are the furthest thing from a rebuilding organization.

Sedano: Fact. I know Dorell played really well last year. But, this Heat team was not in a position to hope Dorell developed in Year 7. He got shots and put up numbers. He wasn't getting those shots here. Mike Miller when healthy is a better all-around player. Miller's injuries aside, the Heat got Udonis Haslem for the price Golden State is paying Dorell. No-brainer.

Strauss: Fiction. So far, Dorell's still locked out of the 2011-12 season. Teams are chasing him off the 3-point line and his pump fake isn't buying him any space. But I believe he'll tilt back towards the mean, and if he does: Miami erred in going so hard after Miller.

Wallace: Fact. In order to pull off the grand plan of creating enough cap space to get Wade, Bosh and LeBron together, the Heat needed to squirrel away every penny possible. They couldn't afford to keep Dorell and pay him what he commanded as a young and promising free agent in 2010. It worked out best for both sides, because Dorell needed to go elsewhere to reach the next level of his game. He had two seasons to lock down a starting role here but never could for several reasons.

Windhorst: Fact. Wright is off to a terrible start to the season so it is not a fair discussion at the moment. I think the better analysis is to look at the fact that he's making $3.8 million and the Heat are paying Mike Miller, Shane Battier and James Jones a combined $10 million. Last year, Wright almost had better numbers than those three combined. But at the time the Heat felt getting more experienced and proven players was important with where they were going and it is hard to disagree with that mindset even if Miller has been crushed by injuries.



5. Fact or Fiction: Miami's final win total will at least double Golden State's.


Haberstroh: Fact. If the Warriors were fully healthy, I probably don't feel good about this ruling. But the Warriors could be without their best player (yes, that's Curry) for weeks and that's a huge blow during this condensed season. When Nate Robinson comes to the rescue, that's like using a cinder block as a life preserver.

Sedano: Fiction. I have the Heat winning 55. I have the Warriors winning 28. I'm not a math major, but that sounds like the Warriors eek this one out.

Strauss: Fact, which might be fantastic for GSW, since their draft pick is top-seven protected. The Heat are losers in this scenario because the win total just ramps up expectations that they grab rings like a 9-1-1 operator.

Wallace: Fact. I love first-year coach Mark Jackson's enthusiasm for predicting the Warriors would be a playoff team this season. But the reality is that they'll be fortunate to win 25 games. There are some nice pieces in place, but the chemistry seems to be slow in developing. They're a trade away from being a serious playoff contender in the West. So if they can get to 25 victories, that will leave the Warriors right at the halfway mark of the 50 wins I've predicted for the Heat.

Windhorst: Fiction. It doesn't look like the Warriors are going to be a playoff team as they were expecting this season. But they are not as bad as they have been over the last two weeks. Curry's injury is a big blow. This is a talented team that historically is very good at home. They will get their wins and despite the Heat's great start, Miami probably isn't going to keep winning 90 percent of their games.


Friday Hotness

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
4:39
PM ET
Haberstroh By Tom Haberstroh
ESPN.com
Archive
  • Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh finally came to blows, everybody. The trio apparently worked out together on Friday morning by boxing.
  • You can learn a lot by studying LeBron's career path. That's the idea behind a Harvard Business School course that examined LeBron's off-the-beaten-path marketing strategies. Specifically, the students analyzed three video game offers presented to LeBron a few years back and decided which made most sense from a business perspective. The students chose the X-Box Live offer. Why? From the Boston Globe: "The Xbox Live deal, the one ultimately chosen by James, involved more risk because it would take more resources and more time to develop a new game. It provided potentially more reward because of revenue sharing. As of today, James and his company continue to work on creating a game."
  • Using LeBron as an example, Zach Lowe at SI.com isn't convinced that strengthening Bird Rights would help small markets retain superstars all that much. "But these stars are worth so much — LeBron James earns about $35 million per year in endorsements — that one year and a few million dollars are not going to be enough to dissuade them from going where they want. You cannot legislate market appeal and smart cap management out of the league."
  • In 140-characters, CBSSports.com's Matt Moore points out the conflicted interests of Jordan endorsers like Dwyane Wade during the lockout.
  • LeBron's "Watch The Throne" shoe.
  • From Miami to Alaska: Chris Bosh will play in Mario Chalmers' exhibition game in Anchorage along with Dexter Pittman and former Heat players Daequan Cook and Michael Beasley. South Florida Sun Sentinel tells us that the game is set for Dec. 1 for those interested in leaving the Continental United States for a bit.
  • The Basketball Jones is coming to Miami. Oh yes, the hilarious NBA-obsessed crew has been touring across the United States over the past week or so and they'll hit Miami on Wednesday at Tobacco Road from 7 pm ET - 9 pm ET. Earlier in the tour, they got former Heater Dorell Wright to sing "Beat It" and interviewed several NBA players to find out who was the league's biggest hipster (Hint: his name rhymes with Shames Sharden). You can RSVP to the free event on their Facebook page. I already have.

Monday Hotness

January, 3, 2011
1/03/11
11:23
AM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
Archive
  • How did the Warriors run up 72 points on the Heat's defense on Saturday night? There were several factors at work, one of which was James taking liberties as a weak side defender. As Sebastian Pruiti demonstrates in pictures at NBA Playbook, Dorell Wright was able to get open looks behind the arc because James opted to cheat off him. Rather than stay home on Wright, James chose to pack the paint to defend against the Warriors' pick-and-roll action.
  • Bobcat blog Rufus on Fire on one of Charlotte's keys to the game: "Stephen Jackson is taller and longer than Wade, just as he's taller and longer than most other shooting guards in the league ... I'm still often amazed that he doesn't post up his man more. The Ray Allens and Kirk Hinrichs and even Dwyane Wades of the world simply don't have the size to deal with Jax on the block. And Jack has the post skills to make them pay! He's a fine passer and has some crafty moves, so I'd love to see him setting up there more."
  • Chris Bosh's adjusted plus-minus this season is an eye-popping 28.27. The 6.39-point margin between Bosh and the league's second-ranked player, Derrick Rose, is larger than the difference between Rose and LaMarcus Aldridge, who is ranked ninth.
  • There's an increasing amount of statistical data to support the premise that the Heat are a better defensive team when Mario Chalmers plays the point. Chalmers gambles a little too much for my taste, but he can compensate for mistakes and cover lost ground with his ranginess, speed and quick hands. Erik Spoelstra's favorite descriptor for Chalmers' defense is "disruptive."
  • Arroyo and Zydrunas Ilgauskas start for the Heat at point guard and center. But who finishes the game for the Heat? Erik Spoelstra is approaching that question situationally, allowing matchups to dictate his lineup down the stretch. Lately, that's meant a lot of Chalmers and Joel Anthony.
  • LeBron James is the most loathed sports figure in New York (after being cheered and much coveted there). In fact, according to the No. 1 votes in this SportsNation survey, he’s as despised as everybody else put together, including Isiah Thomas, James Dolan and Cliff Lee.
  • Raul Takahashi of Hot Hot Hoops on Saturday night's win over the Warriors: "Tonight’s match marked the 9th time the Big Three score +20 points each, with James and Wade finishing with 25 points and Bosh with 20 points. The Heat are 8-1 in such balanced games."
  • The Miami Heat are ripping opponents in the third quarter. Surya Fernandez of AOL Fanhouse: "The Heat rank first in the league in points (26.5) and scoring margin (+4.5) in the third quarter. They also boast the highest average margin through three quarters (+8.7 points), affording them breathing room entering the final stage of games."
  • LeBron James tweets an image of his birthday cake.
  • Garbagetime All-Stars has tracked down the world's smallest portrait of James, which sits above an enormous mantel and fireplace somewhere.

Ex-Heat Wright blossoming with Warriors

January, 2, 2011
1/02/11
12:40
AM ET
Wallace By Michael Wallace
ESPN.com
Archive
MIAMI -- Dorell Wright said all of the right things.

He wanted to make it clear that Saturday night's game against the Miami Heat was simply another chance for his Golden State Warriors to improve. He let it be known there was no vendetta against the Heat, who allowed him to freely walk away in free agency after he spent his first six seasons in Miami.

As far as Wright was concerned, there was nothing wrong with the way things ended with the Heat.

He essentially needed to go in order to grow.


Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty
Dorell Wright: Saturday's homecoming king

Publicly, Wright played the possum act to perfection. But privately, there was another side – one that burned to put on a solid show in his first visit to Miami to play the Heat since his free agency departure.

“Everyone says it doesn't matter,” Warriors coach Keith Smart said of Wright. “But you still want to prove to them that, 'You let this one get away.' I'm sure that was in his mind. It takes a couple of years to remove that from your thinking. You may say it, but in the bottom of your heart, if you had a glass body, you could still see there's a little bit there.”

There was enough there for Wright to give his former team all sorts of headaches before Miami overcame a 20-point deficit and its worst defensive first half of the season to hold on for a 114-107 victory against the Warriors at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Wright scored a game-high 30 points on 12-of-21 shooting from the field, including six 3-pointers, in an entertaining matchup at small forward with LeBron James, who countered with 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Wright walked away with a loss against Miami for the second time this season, but he's gained a level of respect from his former coaches and teammates for the player he's become.

It was the second time in the past three games that Wright, Miami's first-round pick in 2004, has scored at least 30 points. He had a career-high 32 against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Wright continued that high-end production against the Heat, and clearly out-played James in the first half by mixing a prolific outside shooting touch with open-court finishes at the rim.

Asked after the game if he expected that sort of breakout performance from Wright, Heat guard Dwyane Wade didn't hesitate to respond.

“Yes,” said Wade, who is the godfather of Wright's son. “That's how it happens, man. I'm happy to see him be aggressive that way, and really be one of the leaders on that young team.”

There's clearly a difference between the Wright who is blossoming in the Bay Area and the player who blended flashes of potential in Miami with bouts of immaturity and injuries.

“I'm just getting the opportunity,” Wright said after Saturday's game. “I don't have to worry about anything. Just go out there and play my game. There ain't no better feeling than that, having the coach behind you and wanting you to go out there and show everything.”

For three consecutive seasons, Wright entered training camp with the Heat in position to lock down the starting small forward job. Each time, there seemed to be an injury, some untimely struggles with his role or an off-court incident that derailed Dorell.

With the Heat shoring up salary-cap space to re-sign Wade and lure Chris Bosh and James, there was neither room nor a solidified role for Wright in the Heat's plans. So he took a three-year, $11.5 million deal from the Warriors, which has proved to be money well spent.

Wright has started all 33 games for the Warriors, ranks among the league's leaders in 3-pointers made and attempted, and is averaging 16.2 points, six rebounds and three assists. That scoring average this season is 10 points above his career mark of 6.2 points a game.

“He should probably be considered as one of the league's most improved players this year,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday. “Dorell is fitting in very well with that system and those players. I think you're seeing his multi-skilled nature, and he can do a lot of different things.”

No team is more proud of Wright's progress than the one he left behind, the one that moved on without him. The same can also be said of Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley, another Heat castaway who was developed in Miami but is delivering elsewhere.

“This organization has done nothing but good things for me,” Wright said of the Heat. “They've always been behind me. I can't say nothing bad about these guys. They gave me an opportunity to start my career. I learned so much. I was just happy to come back and showcase everything I've been learning. But I had to go somewhere where I could fit in, get consistent minutes and grow with a young team.”

Wright, who was mostly inactive when Miami won a championship in 2006, insists he's past the “what-could-have-been” stage with his former team. The Heat has moved on quite nicely with a team that is among the favorites to contend for an NBA title. Wright also has landed on his feet, with a stable role on a Warriors team that plays at an up-tempo pace that accentuates his versatility.

It was a breakup that was a win-win for both sides. There remains mutual respect. That was evident after Saturday's game, when several Heat players, including Wade, and Miami's coaching staff walked over to the Warriors' bench to share hugs and encouragement with Wright. That type of team-wide gesture doesn't normally happen in the walk-off-and-wave environment of the NBA after the buzzer.

“That just shows a lot of love,” Wright said. “They know what I've been through the past six years I've been here. I've got great friendships with all those guys. It was great just to feel love, that love from your old teammates, guys you used to have to grind with every single day.”

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