Miami Heat: Who's Hot, Who's Warm, Who's Cold? - Heat Nation
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Miami Heat: Who’s Hot, Who’s Warm, Who’s Cold?

Shabazz Napier and Chris Andersen of the Miami Heat

As lousy as a 2-4 record may look so far this preseason, the Miami Heat could be on the right path heading into the regular season. The large void left by the departure of one LeBron James has been subsequently filled by a collective effort from both newcomers and remaining talents from last year’s NBA Finals run. With five of six games decided by seven points or fewer (2-3 record in those games), the Heat has shown that it remains a competitive squad in the top-heavy Eastern Conference, despite narrow setbacks to conference favorite Cleveland and division rivals Orlando and Atlanta.

Two straight wins over Western Conference powers Golden State and San Antonio give Heat fans a reason to believe in the new era in South Beach, as several players are making their marks throughout exhibition play. While some have been on fire, others have either been average at best, or needing room for improvement. Here’s my breakdown of who’s been hot, warm and cold on the hardwood:

Who’s Hot: Chris Bosh, Shabazz Napier, James Ennis.

Miami Heat vs. New Orleans Pelicans Preseason Highlights

Talk about a preseason Big Three. Bosh, Napier and Ennis have been effective on both ends of the floor throughout this preseason, as the returning center leads the team with 17.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game on just 27 minutes a night. Bosh, who made it clear that James’ presence in the Heat offense stunted his demands for the ball on several nights over the four years they played together, has been fed the ball often in five preseason contests, averaging 13 shot attempts per game. As a result of Bosh summoning his inner Keyshawn Johnson to be given “the damn ball,” the 12-year veteran has already come one rebound shy of a double-double twice this preseason.

While Bosh stands tall as the top dog on the Heat roster, Napier’s play has inspired consideration for a possible rookie starting point guard role. The UConn product started off slow with nine total points on 3-of-9 shooting in limited playing time during the Heat’s first two exhibition contests, but came alive with four straight double-digit scoring outbursts, including a team-high 25 points off the bench in the team’s Finals-avenging victory in San Antonio last Saturday. Napier has ceased to disappoint since having his draft rights traded to South Beach from the Charlotte Hornets last June and has displayed enough grit to challenge Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole for critical minutes at the point guard spot for this upcoming regular season.

Meanwhile, waiting in the wings is wing threat James Ennis, who has dazzled Heat fans with an 11 point-per-game average on an impressive 52 percent clip from the field. The 24-year-old versatile guard/forward has made his presence felt on the scoreboard, scoring in double figures in each of the first four preseason games, including a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds in an overtime loss to the Magic. Despite not scoring a load in the last two exhibition games, Ennis manages to be an asset in other categories, recording seven steals in the past three games, while notching five assists in another contest. Ennis’ youth and natural ability to make plays all over the floor should have the veteran forwards looking over their shoulders, as their playing time could start dwindling due to this blooming prospect.

Next: Who’s warm?

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