Dwyane Wade called the Heat’s point guard position a work in progress on Tuesday morning after the team’s shootaround.
On Tuesday night, Norris Cole started in place of Mario Chalmers at the position.
The switch represented the latest sign that the Heat remains unsettled at point guard after losing LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Although Chalmers started at point guard last season, James served as the team’s de facto ball distributor and catalyst.
Cole facilitated sufficiently as the team’s starter in the Heat’s second preseason game, a 108-101 overtime loss to the Orlando Magic.
“It starts with our point guards and their occupation of the ball,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game. “They will have more opportunities to be aggressive, but they don’t need to play out of themselves. We have versatile guys.”
Cole finished the game with six assists and two points in 26 minutes of play. Some of his early highlights included clean passes to Chris Bosh, and a cutting assist to Luol Deng in the lane. Chalmers had 10 points, no assists, one steal and two turnovers in nearly 25 minutes. He went 2 of 8 from the field and 1 of 4 from behind the three-point line.
Spoelstra’s requirements for his new, more traditional point guard position: “I don’t want them thinking they have to shoulder all the responsibility to create opportunities for the rest of the team, but the more aggressive they are and the more confident they are, the better it is for us.”
Chalmers came off the bench and played alongside Cole and Wade during the team’s first rotation. For a short stretch, Wade served as the team’s small forward with Chalmers at shooting guard and Cole the primary ball handler.
Tuesday’s switch at point guard isn’t permanent as the Heat continues to experiment with rotations.
“The jury is still out on that,” Wade said of the team’s point guards. “We’ve only been together for about eight days, so the jury is still out. But we’ll see.”
Moving Chalmers to shooting guard could help him break out of a malaise that stretches back to the 2014 playoffs. He was benched for the final game of The Finals, which Miami loss 4-1 to San Antonio. The Heat is trying to find a way to generate more offense, and moving Chalmers to a role more suited to his skill set could help.
The Heat’s other option at point guard, rookie Shabazz Napier played nearly 11 minutes, all in the second half, and had four points on 1of 6 shooting. He also recorded four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one turnover.
This and that
▪ Thirteen players had lockers on Tuesday before the team flew to Brazil, and that list included Justin Hamilton and James Ennis. Of the other newcomers in training camp, 6-10 forward Shawne Williams also has an engraved nameplate above his locker. Williams is playing under a guaranteed deal and started again in place of Josh McRoberts. McRoberts remains sidelined after offseason surgery on his left greater toe.