Camp Questions: Can The ‘Positionless’ Heat Keep Opponents Off The Glass?


HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat really figured it out last Spring.

They realized that “positionless” basketball, with the personnel they had on their roster, was pretty much unstoppable. They didn’t need a real point guard or a real center. They just needed LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and a handful of shooters.

In the 2012 postseason, the Heat were better both offensively and defensively when they played with fewer than two true big men.

Heat efficiency, 2012 Playoffs

Bigs on floor MIN Pace OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Two bigs 273 88.5 105.3 99.0 +6.3 +25
One or zero bigs 840 91.5 107.4 97.9 +9.5 +138

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

In the offseason, the Heat fully embraced their positionless concept by trimming a center — Ronny Turiaf — off their roster and adding two more shooters — Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. Offensively, they should be more unstoppable than ever. Defensively, they should be fine as well.

But here’s a question worth some investigating: How does playing small affect the Heat on the glass?

James is a great rebounder relative to other small forwards (only Shawn Marion was better last year), but not compared to power forwards like Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, Carlos Boozer or Pau Gasol. And Bosh isn’t a great rebounder at either the four or the five.

If you look at preseason rebounding numbers thus far, you might start to get a little concerned. Through Thursday, the Heat rank 27th in rebounding percentage, grabbing just 47.4 percent of available boards through their first seven preseason games.

Worst rebounding teams, 2012 preseason

Team OREB% Rank DREB% Rank REB% Rank
New York 23.5% 24 70.6% 24 45.6% 30
Dallas 20.5% 29 69.1% 28 45.9% 29
Charlotte 23.4% 25 70.3% 26 46.4% 28
Miami 18.7% 30 72.3% 20 47.4% 27
Cleveland 26.7% 18 67.3% 30 47.7% 26

OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
DREB% = Percentage of available defensive rebounds obtained
REB% = Percentage of available total rebounds obtained

Yep, it’s preseason. But the Heat have played their stars a decent amount in those seven games. They’ve rebounded OK in each of their last four games, but they got absolutely crushed on the glass (101-70) in two games against the Clippers in China.

Furthermore, the Heat did suffer on the glass when they went small in the playoffs last season.

Heat rebounding, 2012 Playoffs

Bigs on floor OREB% DREB% REB%
Two bigs 28.5% 74.5% 52.2%
One or zero bigs 25.4% 73.8% 50.1%

Over the course of 82 games, the Heat should be fine. They do enough other things both offensively and defensively to make up for any rebounding issues they might have. But there are a few very good rebounding teams that could take advantage of a smaller Heat lineup on any given night … or in the playoffs.

Indiana is one Eastern Conference team that could really hurt the Heat on the glass. And on the other side of the country is a team in L.A. that was the league’s second-best rebounding team last season and happened to add the league’s leading rebounder this summer. Just ask the 2010 Celtics how important rebounding was when they faced the Lakers in The Finals. (Hint: L.A. had 23 offensive boards in Game 7.)

So while we watch the Heat roll through the Eastern Conference this year, we need to keep a close eye on how well they rebound, which may be the one vulnerability of positionless basketball.


  1. I don´t want to sound no argue but James Jones is the answer for the Heat because everytime he gets in the court he is a danger weapon for the Heat.
    In position 5 Chris Bosh could play like 5 and then all these guys can afford the situation of rebound;

    Joel Anthony
    Dexter Pittman
    and the new guy who plays as 5.

    Put Lebron as 3 like he always has been accustom. Allen in 1 and Wade in 2 position.
    Chalmers and Cole and Battier and Lewis and Miller. What a team!


  2. NBEATZ says:

    Miami does look a little weak at the 4 and 5 positions……….. But They have Haslum and Joel that can play the 4 or 5. When they play agains Howard, Marc Gasol, Bogut, Bynum, and any other BIG physical Centers, then they just have to through in Pittman for 15-20 minutes a game. He is unkown, but he is a big body who has lost some wieght, he is physical, he rebounds and block shots, thats all you want to do when playing these types of centers, not to mention they have Josh Harrelson who is 6-11 and 275pounds. They will be fine up front.
    EVERYONE, lets please look at the Centers around the leaque before we start to break down Miami’s issues at the PF and C positions. Can we please remember Bosh with 10-11 Rebounds with the Raps. Bosh has been a carrer 9+ rebounder . Bosh has only averaged 8 rebounds with the Heat because of the way they play him outside of the key. He is now there starting C witch means 35+ minutes a game should be played down low. Think about this for a second. Bosh gets 2+ more rebounds more a game and he is a 10+ rebounder. Also if he puts back just one of thoes, he becomes a 20+ point scorer for them. Does that not make him one of the best big men with thoes numbers? I think so. Not to mention the first 2 seasons he averaged 1.5 BPG, with him down on the block, he should be around that number again. Brone is 6-8 250 Pounds who should and will average at least 8 RPG, maybe even more with the Heat now playing small and he should get more time at the PF position. Tell me another bench player that could average as many rebounds as Haslum does per 36 min?……….Reggie Evans is all I can think of. The rebounding this year will be just fine. I see Bosh with 10+, Brone with 8+ Haslum with 7+, Wade with 5+. THis team is intertwinable at every position. Bron can and will play 1-4, wade can play 1-3, Bosh can play 4-5, Haslum can play 4-5, Lewis can play 3-5, Miller can play 2-4, Battier can play 2-4, Cole can play 1-2, Chalmers can play 1-2, Ray Ray can play 2-3, Joel can play 4-5, Josh Harrelson can play 4-5,James Jones can play 2-4,this way if there are any injuries they are covered at every position. Our Bench is the deepest in the NBA. Allen would be starting on 23+ Teams, Miller would be staring on 15+ teams, Haslum would be starting on 18+ teams. WE WILL REPEAT

  3. joe says:

    indiana was mentioned as being a better rebounding team team than miami, but the heat got them in 6 games in their series. While I agree Miami are not great rebounding team, they’re ‘good enough’, and then their defence carries them the reset of the way.

  4. Max says:

    James Harden has been traded to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks, and one second round pick. What the hell is going on? What the hell just happened?

    To read more go to

  5. W/E says:

    give em a good big man and the trophy before the seaon starts….with or w/o the good big man the heat r gunna own,they r even BETTER than last year and it would be the biggest suprise of the year if they dont manage to get to the NBA finals with healthy big 3 and all these great shooters they have on the bench…

  6. Miami forever says:

    Bryant-Howard-Gasol-Nash, lol i can’t wait too see your team brick so many threes, your bench is pathetic, meeks and antawn? lol you have barely any perimeter defense or really any defensive players coming off the bench it’ll rain threes when we play the Lakers, will be a blowout. You think just superstars can get it done? Please refer to the big 3 in their 1st season together..

    Haslem is a terrific rebounder and bosh and lebron are good, wade chips in, everyone chips in.
    not a problem.

  7. they still need a true big man to Guard the paint

    • Mr. Oouch says:

      Last championship is a proof that they dont need a true center nor PG. Dwade Bosh and Lebron is enough to run the team.

      • Mr. Oouch says:

        —and of course, shooters who can knock down 3s. Now they got Allen, they can definitely win another ring.

  8. DWADE 3 says:

    Heat have to improve big man area. try to get eddy curry back or improve joel anthony. wade also kinda needs to step up a notch

  9. Jack says:

    oH, u call that lucky when you make 4/4 3pt shot? that lucky?…i guess that is the reason why they are in heat team, shooters like miller, allen and rashard were in there to loosen the paint,..just easy as that..well management maybe seeing a new trend n basketball, lets see if this will work for miami,..a pointless position..

  10. aegwiou says:

    I think that small ball lineup is underrated because LeBron’s still adding to his post game and maybe that could add up to Bosh and they could be stronger in the paint, who knows? But honestly Turiaf wasn’t really a big difference, and if they don’t win this year, which is really hard to do, they can add Josh Smith as he is going to be a free agent and you can add Chris Paul too, maybe this year, but it’s definitely not going to be the same the year after that

    • Josh Smith will be a hawk or a lakers Cp3 will always be a clippers so dream on, The heat should Sign Chuck hayes and earl Boykins as their starting 5 and 1 …………..and they should sign Brian Scalabrine…..

  11. Air Walker says:

    I think if Chris Bosh’s averages 7+ rebounds a night there’s a very good chance for the Heat to win back-to-back championships. Remember that Game 2 Finals the won against the OKC wherein he has 15 rebounds.

  12. Rj says:

    This heat team didnt need more shooters. That interior weakness will be exposed everytime they meet other teams that have a good center. Udonis haslem nor joel anthony will not solve their problem. Id compare the heat to okc, a jump shooting team that has no inside game. Teams like SAS, LAL, even dare I say the sixers will expose this heat team in the middle. LBJ probably will not risk an injury trying to defend the paint. Same goes for wade. Honestly the heat have way more to lose . Heat management should have gotten a center instead of a shooter thats probably gonna be injured again in the middle of the season.

  13. Mr. Oouch says:

    Rebounding isn’t only the biggest factor to win a game. The Heat had proven that last season when shooters like Battier and Miller knocking down shots, you don’t need to worry about getting the ball back if everyone shoots well. Now Ray Allen and Lewis is in the team, the Heat’s perimeter shooting is more efficient than last season. And besides, having no definite position has more advantages.

    • Rapido_ratrat says:

      heat were lucky in the finals coz battier,chalmers and miller hit their shots.if not okc will be the eventual champs.

      • QuestionMark says:

        Hitting shots isn’t luck its skill, especially with how open Miller, Battier and Chalmers were. When you have two of the best players at their respective postions, who can drive and finish with power and force, you are bound to help on defense and double and try to slow them down, leaving Battier, Miller, Chalmers, Jones and now Allen, the best shooter of all time and Lewis as well. You can pretty much say Miami is the new and improved Orlando, back when the Magic surrounded Dwight Howard with shooters, except it actually worked out for Miami.

      • Not really, NBA fan this year the heat will be a different team. Just watch.

    • so YOuR saying that if the Lakers will get 60 rebounds and heat gets none that means they can still win???? rebound is one of the most important stat of a team

      • yo mama says:

        question mark you are stupid! battier and miller are no where near the best shooters! get it right before you post stupid comments, and by the way the celtics should have beat the heat last playoffs if it wasnt for some stupid calls

    • so YOuR saying that if the Lakers will get 60 rebounds and heat gets none that means they can still win because of their shooters???? rebound is one of the most important stat of a team

  14. Simplyjustdoit says:

    Yes heat will lose out in rebound against lakers and that’s very important cos this year and coming yrs lakers is the only team seems able to win heat if both team are healthy. LBJ should concentrate on rebound more with such big teams and must profited from being small ASAP during start of the first two quarters. LBJ need to learn more on pose up as he will be getting older so he can’t run as fast as now. He need to start doing more rebounds and slowly move into power forward position for the next 2 yrs or so.

  15. LordP says:

    Joel Anthony is the best “Big” to defend and rebound UD is also pretty good at it ..Rashard Lewis once was good at rebounding..all these guys Bosh,Bron and Wade can make up for the heat..We’re the best team out there and we gonna show it to the whole league..playing to another level..something new is coming!!!

  16. Fo Real says:

    They won it Last year with out a true centre. And I am Sure they can do it again.

    • wong says:

      Basically if yall don’t know, you cant try and beat the Heat by matching there talent. You gotta beat them by exposing their weakness, simple as that. There weakness is muscle. Have atleast 4 key big players and make sure you keep guys like that guarding Lebron the whole game. Problem is, there are only a few power forwards even capable of frustrating Lebrons offense, those are guys like Paul Millsap or David west, actually those are the only 2 great defense-minded PF’s that come to mind right now. Lots of teams dont have guys like that. Thunder instead have Kevin durant whos not all that on defense, just a great player on offense but hes not good enough which is why I say you cant beat the heat by matching there talent.

    • Angelo says:

      it was because okc were not able to take advantage of their size. they were not able to punish the heat for going small on defense because neither ibaka nor perkins is a threat on the post. that’s where i think the Lakers got the upside. but i’m not saying LA will surely win. they still have to solve the LBJ problem. i don’t see Metta being able to keep up with james on the perimeter. and i’m pretty concern on LA’s bench.
      for me, the mavs were effective against the heat because they were able to punish them inside with dirk and outside with terry, peja, stevenson. they had a deep bench. marion was able to somehow contain LBJ on the perimeter and they had Ty Chandler to slide for help defense and rebounds.
      unless LA and OKC can manage to solve this problems, the only team that has the chance to challenge the heat for now in my opinion is Boston. good penetrations and playmakings from rondo. good outside scorers with lee and terry. post offense and defense from kg. deeper bench and size. that is if the Celts could go back from their defensive form with all of the new pieces.

  17. Kingk says:

    If i were the heat, i think i would of kept turiaf but i think they can get it together with this roster