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July 11 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat player Ray Allen (left) listens to a reporter

NBA 2012 Offseason Grades: Miami Heat

2011-12 Record: 46-20, Southeast Division Champions, Defeated Oklahoma City Thunder in NBA Finals

2012 NBA Draft: C Justin Hamilton (LSU, 45th pick overall, acquired from Philadelphia 76ers)

Offseason Additions: G Ray Allen (3 years, $9 million), F Rashard Lewis (2 years, $2.8 million)

Offseason Losses: C Ronny Turiaf (signed with Los Angeles Clippers)

Resigned: N/A

Projected Starting Line-up: PG Mario Chalmers, SG Dwayne Wade, SF Shane Battier, PF Lebron James, C Chris Bosh

OFFSEASON GRADE: A +

After failing miserably in their first attempt at championship glory, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat finally won “the big one” and captured the franchises second-ever NBA title this past season.

The pressure and scrutiny of having never won before, for Lebron James at least, is gone completely.

If this roster was to remain completely unchanged heading into 2013, the Heat would still be considered the heavy favourites to repeat as champions. With 3 of the top 10 or 12 players in the entire league, it’s hard to ever bet against them.

When you add the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history to their arsenal, an aura of invincibility begins to shower over this team.

The Miami Heat almost seem unbeatable, and that’s a scary thing.

After spending the past 5 seasons with the Boston Celtics along with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the NBA’s all-time leading 3-point shooter Ray Allen has now decided to “take his talents to South Beach” so to speak and join the Heat’s crusade in repeating as NBA Champions. Using the teams mid-level exception, Allen’s deal will be just over $3 million a year for 3 years.

Ray’s last season in Boston was by far his least efficient year, averaging just 14.2 points (lowest scoring numbers since his rookie year), 3.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists (lowest totals of his career). He was demoted to a bench role in favour of upstart shooting guard Avery Bradley, a move which didn’t sit well with Allen. His lesser role with the team was ultimately one of the major reasons he decided to leave.

When looking at Ray’s numbers, I suppose the only statistic that really matters is his three-point percentage, which was a career-high 45.3% last season. The Miami Heat were absolutely dominant from behind the arc in last years NBA Finals, so adding another player (the greatest ever from three-point range) who can help spread the floor and keep the defense honest will be extremely valuable once the playoffs begin anew in 2013.

A shooter with the credentials of Ray Allen on the floor will allow guys like James and Wade to avoid double-teams. You can’t leave Allen open on the perimeter.

You just can’t.

One of the few things Ray still does well this late in his career is shoot the basketball. He’s not going to be called upon to put up 15-18 points a night like he was with Boston. His role now will be to stand behind the three-point line and wait for his opportunities.

Opportunities he will surely get playing along with his superstar teammates.

Allen’s former teammate with the Seattle Supersonics, Rashard Lewis, has also signed on with the Miami Heat under a 2 year, $2.8 million dollar deal.

That’s a far cry from the 6 year, $118 million dollar deal he had with Orlando.

Rashard’s last few years in the league have been anything but pleasant. He was suspended for the first 10 games of the 09-10 season after testing positive for a banned substance. He was then moved from the Magic to the lowly Washington Wizards, where he failed to produce anything of any value, averaging just 11.4 points on 44% shooting in 2011.

Lewis was traded (along with rookie Darius Miller) from Washington to the New Orleans Hornets this summer for a package that included Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. After spending just a mere 10 days as a member of the Hornets, Lewis was then released (which was the plan all along) on to the open market where he eventually found his new home with the Heat.

The Miami Heat are the perfect organization for Lewis. Not only are they a proven winner (something Lewis hasn’t been a part of in years), but they also have the structure and focus around them with their star players and head coaching to get the most out of Rashard, if only in a far lesser role than he’s probably accustomed to having.

The days of Lewis playing 30+ minutes and putting up 18-20 points a night are very much over. His role now will be to back up James and Chris Bosh off the bench in a reserve role.

Anything he can give Miami at this point will be icing on the cake. There is no pressure and no expectations.

So former all-stars Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis are now members of the Heat….

Great…

As if the team wasn’t stacked enough already.

The favourites to win it all again next season just gave you more incentive to jump on their bandwagon.

OTHER OFFSEASON RECAPS: Atlanta HawksBoston Celtics, Brooklyn NetsCharlotte Bobcats, Chicago BullsCleveland CavaliersDallas MavericksDenver NuggetsDetroit PistonsGolden State WarriorsHouston RocketsIndiana PacersLos Angeles ClippersLos Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies

Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports

Tags: Dwayne Wade LeBron James Miami Heat NBA Champions NBA Offseason Moves 2012 Rashard Lewis Ray Allen

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