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Super Mario? Nah, Just Solid

We know he's confident. Mario Chalmers entered the league a year ago with a chip on his shoulder after Mario slipping to the second round of the draft, and refused to take a back seat to any guard picked ahead of him.

We know he's durable. Although he only had to beat out a barely-wanted Marcus Banks, a still-rehabbing Shaun Livingston and a seldom-used Chris Quinn, Chalmers (pictured right) grabbed the starting job last season and became the only rookie in Heat history to start every regular season and playoff game.

We know he's valued. Why else would Heat president Pat Riley go as far as to proclaim that he wouldn't bring in anyone to start ahead of Chalmers, despite the team's significant void of point guard depth? That means - barring a last-minute change of plans - bypassing a group of proven veterans that consists of Ty Lue, Brevin Knight, Flip Murray, Jamaal Tinsley and just-off-the-market Allen Iverson.

Yes, we know plenty about Chalmers. But there's at least one thing we don't. And that is whether or not he's clearly - beyond a reasonable doubt - the solid, steady, clutch point guard this franchise will place in the backcourt alongside Dwyane Wade for the foreseeable future?

This season will go a long way in determining that answer. I still find it a bit strange that Chalmers went from having to be taught the point guard position at this level a year ago to becoming practically untouchable and essentially irreplaceable in just the span of 12 months.

And that leaves the Heat in a curious situation entering camp just two weeks from now. Chalmers and Quinn are the only two point guards under contract. Riley said last week that Wade will again handle significant time at the position late in games and in crisis situations.

Mario-magic That sets up a huge gamble for the Heat. An injury to Chalmers means far more minutes for Wade. An injury to Wade means the season is done, during a contract year for your franchise player to boot. Riley is a risk taker. But he ain't crazy, which is why I think he will address needs at the position via a trade or free agent signing at some point before the start of the season.

If Chalmers (pictured left, driving against Jameer Nelson) continues to develop, there's no question he could be a solid starter in this league for a long time alongside Wade, assuming Wade re-ups as expected next summer in free agency. Remember, greatness doesn't need spectacular as a sidekick to win. Simply solid would do.

That's why Jordan worked so well with Paxson and Armstrong. It's why Kobe gets it done with Fisher. Between now and the Sept. 28 start of training camp, we will rank how the Heat stacks up in the East at all five starting positions, the bench and coaching. Let's start at point guard, where I've got Chalmers ranked 10th in the East entering the season, based on production, potential, expected progress, overall impact and durability among other factors. Here's where the Heat stacks up at the position.

1. Devin Harris (pictured right), Nets. 2. Gilbert Arenas, Wizards. 3. Derrick Rose, Bulls. 4. Rajon Rondo, Celtics. 5. Devin Harris Jameer Nelson, Magic. 6. Mo Milliams, Cavs. 7. Jose Calderon, Raptors. 8. Mike Bibby, Hawks. 9. Rodney Stuckey, Pistons. 10. Mario Chalmers, Heat. 11. Raymond Felton, Bobcats. 12. T.J. Ford, Pacers. 13. Chris Duhon, Knicks. 14. Luke Ridnour, Bucks. 15 Lou Williams, Sixers.

If Chalmers makes the sort of second-year progress the Heat is expecting, Miami will be fine at the position. But if the team enters the season as is at the point, Mario will have minimal margin for error.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Comments

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If Chalmers can develop into a Chauncey Billups type that would be great alongside of Wade.

Give me a break. Mario Chalmer is not better or more talented than Raymond Felton or even TJ Ford. By these rankings that would make Mario 13th best out of 15 point guards in the Eastern Conference. That is pathetic. Why would Wade want to spend the rest of his career with a 13th best in his own conference PG? Why not bring in AI or Tinsley to give the team a proven veteran? The Heat is making terrible moves and it will cost them Dwayne Wade.

"he ain't crazy" where did you go to school bro? sun sentinel spanks this paper in regards to the Heat.

No way the Herald is better, the SunSentinel Heat coverage will drive a person crazy.... Ira has speculative insight of a 12 year old girl.

I mean Ira has THE speculative insight of a 12 year old girl.

i think mario is a solid point guard, and if he might not be as good as some of the players listed behind him, he might also be better than some of the players listed in front of him. he's also a smart rookie who will keep getting better, and his ncaa championship ring he earned as a rookie should be proof of that. he is the type of quality player that does not get enough attention in today's nba because he is not a "superstar". he reminds of a jameer nelson or chauncy billups.

all that being said, we need to get a back-up point guard. wade has repeatedly said he does not want to play point guard, and chris quinn is a great 12th man, but not a rotation player. we need a steve blake or bobby jackson type player to tutor mario and fill in during injuries.

Mike,
Here are some stats for a player you're describing: 15Pts and 7.5 dimes a game. We'll see if Mario has the chops.

ok, well i would like to say that i liked when the heat drafted Mario, i do think he could become a top point gaurd in the league not just the eastern conference.. but what i would like to see is d-wright step his game up, what i see is a possible scottie pippen, but hey lets just let him play.. now before any changes are made please try to think for a championship not just to compete, with all the money that will be available please put a championship level team together...plz

what i think the would need this year is one of two players 1) marcus camby or 2) caron butler, but the key is how much do you believe in micheal beasley and are you willing to give up james jones, cause you could actually get both, and slide o'neil to the 4 spot and become a one year fix to make a run...

this season at this point is looking like the lotto isn't so bad. i mean the spurs ended up with tim ducan even though they could've made the playoffs, so why not try with whats here and if it doesn't work just tank it. it might get the first pick but the only thing is scouting has to be at a premium... although beasley was the top college player he still didn't seem like a top pro with his size he's somewhat of a tweener who is defensively limited.. north carolina has a kid who looks like a pro ( ed davis) and who knows who else comes up... and if bosh doesn't leave the raptors than what, amare is a great fit but and you know there a but here... look bring in stackhouse, bonzi, no. trade jones,cook,beasley,richardson,haslem, but haslem is coming back next year... maybe felton,butler,camby...

Mario Chalmers kept D.Rose under control during their NCAA Championship match-up, hit the game tying shot with seconds ticking off the clock to send the game into OT and help his team pull off the come from behind victory. He skipped his senoir season to enter the NBA. He's the first rookie in Heat history to play & start ALL 82 games ( a feat. D-Wade and though they don't play for the Heat neither did Kobe nor LeBron)while playing PG exclusively after being recruited as a SG & playing both gaurd spots while at Kansas. He was #4 in steals in the league last season and he and D-Wade formed arguably the best backcourt duo in the 2008 season and if I'm correct, the first time in history that 2 players on the same team were in the top 5 in SPG in a season in the NBA.
He'll be better this year just by having a year of NBA playing experience under his belt.
The other than physically stronger and more technically sound he has dialed-in and stay more focused during the games. If he gets tougher mentally this offseason he'll be exact type of player the Heat needs beside D-Wade in the backcourt for years to come.

MIAMI IS NUTS AND SO IS PAT RILEY DO SOMETHING ALREADY IF THEY SIGN RAYMOND FELTON OR FLIP MIAMI WOULD BE PRETTY SOLID REMEBER MARIO CHAlMERS IS STILL YOUNG HE NEEDS HELP.

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