A: The irony is that Luol Deng brings that dimension, but, of course, at the cost of losing LeBron. What the Heat could have used last season during the NBA Finals, when LeBron was occupied with Tony Parker, was Deng to help out defensively on the wing. The question becomes who is the second-best wing defender on this roster? At one point, a case could have been made for Dwyane Wade. I'm not sure that case can be made any longer. The Heat need to find that second wing stopper either from within, or else still are one addition short.
Q: Ira, I remember in 2006 when we won the championship by playing good team ball and utilizing everyone on the court. It seems as though the Heat are assembling a group of players to form a team, compared to individual play that we have had during the Big Three era. I appreciate what LeBron James helped us accomplish when he was here. But there were plenty of nights I could have thrown something at the TV when the ball was sticking in his hands or only would go through the Big Three, leaving two guys just standing around. I feel that going back to a "15 strong" mentality would give us a better chance of winning it all again in the near future, as San Antonio showed us this past season that five can beat three any day, all day. Your thoughts? -- Eugene, Lauderdale Lakes.
A: My thoughts are that the Heat would have had exponentially greater championship hopes had LeBron stayed. That's just the NBA reality. Say all you want about the Spurs' approach, but they also were loaded with playoff-level talent. And I'm still not sure you're going to get a five-man game out of this Heat roster, because that would require yet another adjustment from Wade. But what I do agree with is that aesthetically this could become a more attractive, if not quite as spectacular, style. But I'm also curious if "competitive" will be enough for fans who are used to "dominant."
Q: Hey Ira, why do you say that the Heat will win between 43 and 45 this season, when in the '09 and '10 season they won 43 and 47 games with Wade only. Now they also have Chris Bosh. I think they could win up to 50 games. What do you think? -- Mariano, Newport News, Va.A: To win regular-season games, Dwyane Wade has to play in regular-season games. My estimate was based on the likelihood that Dwyane still will be held out of a certain number of games, particularly as part of back-to-back sets. If Dwyane were to play a full schedule, or something closer to full than last season, then I certainly would up the ante with the prediction.