How Will Josh McRoberts Fit into the Miami Heat System Next Season?

How Will Josh McRoberts Fit into the Miami Heat System Next Season?

Josh McRoberts is the definition of a forgotten man.

After the Miami Heat re-signed franchise players Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade to new contracts and brought in big-name free agents and rookies such as Amar’e Stoudemire, Gerald Green and Justise Winslow, McRoberts has become a forgotten player by Heat Nation.

It’s hard to blame Heat fans, considering the 6’10” forward hasn’t even been on the radar since tearing his right meniscus back in December of last year. He underwent season-ending surgery just two weeks later after appearing in only 17 games during the season.

Outside of the torn meniscus, McRoberts struggled through toe and back injuries prior to the start of the regular season. It caused him to miss most of training camp and the preseason due to the assortment of injuries.

For those that don’t recall, the University of Duke product was considered one of the most integral additions of the Heat’s 2014 offseason. After the departure of LeBron James, McRoberts was expected to pick up a lot of the slack as a playmaking forward. Pat Riley signed the versatile forward to a four-year, $23 million contract last July.

Unfortunately for the veteran and the Heat, his tenure with the franchise got off to a bad start and never recovered due to multiple injuries.

Following his season-ending injury in December, head coach Erik Spoelstra commented on McRoberts’ desire to make an impact for the franchise after signing with the Heat just a few months prior:

“You have to fight yourself from [feeling sorry]. It was a kick to the gut when we heard about Josh. You feel for him more than anything, because he wanted to come in here and contribute. And you started to see flashes of it.”

He entered the 2014-15 season with the expectation that he would be the team’s starting power forward. That never came to be, and even during the short period of time he was healthy, he was never able to supplant Shawne Williams as the starter at the four position. McRoberts started just four of the 17 games he appeared in.

In fact, the projected starting lineup of McRoberts, Wade, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng and Norris Cole appeared on the court for just 34 minutes all season.

With the 2014-15 season in the books, the attention now shifts to what McRoberts’ role will be for the 2015-16 season.

Clearly, the eight-year veteran will not be a starter on this year’s Heat squad. The starting lineup is set in stone with Hassan Whiteside at center, Bosh at power forward, Deng at small forward, Wade at shooting guard and Goran Dragic at point guard.

Presently speaking, Stoudemire, Green, Winslow, Mario Chalmers, Chris Andersen and McRoberts will be the top players coming off of the bench. With the Heat facing luxury tax issues, they could very well unload both Chalmers and Andersen for tax relief purposes.

Regardless of what happens with ‘Rio and Andersen, McRoberts is the best all-around player of the aforementioned six players. While Winslow could very well develop into the Heat’s most complete two-way player off the bench as the season progresses, the veteran forward could become the team’s go-to option as the sixth man off the bench at the start of the season.

He is more than capable as a scorer, as a threat from beyond the arc and as a passing big man. His assist percentage during the 2013-14 season with the Charlotte Bobcats was at 21.9 percent. That was actually slightly below Dragic’s assist percentage of 22.8 percent.

He also thrives as an energy player who can guard up to three positions on the court.

During his breakout ’13-14 season with Charlotte, he shot 36 percent from three-point range, scored 8.5 points, grabbed 4.8 rebounds and dished 4.3 assists per game.

While all signs would seem to indicate McRoberts will be the team’s sixth man entering the upcoming season, there are still questions as to what his role will be considering he has never actually been a sixth man during his NBA career. Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel ponders what the veteran’s role will be for the 2015-16 Heat:

“He remains an intriguing possibility going forward. And the fact that he has been around the team this summer, including training sessions with the team in Las Vegas during summer league, is an encouraging sign. For all the Heat concern about the luxury tax, Josh has the type of mid-level contract that could prove cost effective going forward. The question, however, remains where he fits into a frontcourt with Hassan Whiteside and Chris Bosh, and whether he can be efficient if played as a sixth man.”

At just 28 years of age, McRoberts has a lot of basketball left in him. While he might not become much better of player than what was displayed a couple of years ago back in Charlotte, the Heat have a big need for a post player who can distribute, score from beyond the arc and play three different positions if needed.

While he may not make the impact that was expected of him when he was the one of the team’s most important free agent signings of 2014, McRoberts should be the team’s top player coming off the bench during the 2015-16 season.
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