COACH: Erik Spoelstra | 2007-08: 15-67
Miami Heat

After two years of frustration, Wade is ready to get back on track.
Victor Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images
There have been many storylines surrounding the Miami Heat since they finished the 2007-08 season with an NBA-worst 15-67 record. But the importance of one of them far exceeds that of the rest.

Dwyane Wade is back.

After two injury-riddled seasons, Wade showed that he is healthy, explosive and dominant again this summer in Beijing, helping the U.S. Men's Senior National Team win gold as the team's leading scorer and arguably, its best player.

"Being healthy," Wade told New York Newsday, "my game picked right back up to where it left off."

And as we saw in the 2006 Playoffs, a healthy Dwyane Wade is as good as it gets in this league.

Before you even look at the rest of the Miami roster, witnessing Wade's performance in China will have you thinking that the Heat can get back to the playoffs right away. He was that good and he's back to being one of the five best players in the world. You can't stay in front of him when he wants to get to the bucket, and his jumper is ever-improving.

Realistically, after the top four or five teams, the Eastern Conference is wide open. So, going from 15 wins to the postseason is certainly feasible with a rejuvenated Wade.

"It's going to be tough," Wade said, "but we're going to compete all year and get our playoffs."

Of course, other than Wade, Udonis Haslem is the only current Heat player who won the NBA title (Dorell Wright was on the roster, but didn't play) with Miami three seasons ago. Even Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley has moved back upstairs (permanently or otherwise) to the front office. In addition, with the decline/departure of Shaquille O'Neal and the decline/departure of Jason Williams, the Heat have major holes at the center and point guard positions.

And this is still a team that was 10-41 with Wade last season.

But they have Haslem, Shawn Marion and No. 2 pick Michael Beasley, a solid trio of forwards. With that hole at the five (one which retread Jamaal Magloire is not going to fill), new coach Erik Spoelstra will likely play the three forwards together often in order to get his best players on the floor. And trading one of them is always a possibility.

Filling the hole at the point may be more difficult. Chris Quinn, who started 25 games last season, may be the default starter, but rookie Mario Chalmers, the 34th pick from Kansas, will get a shot at the job. Either way, Wade will be asked to shoulder some of the ball-handling duties.

But more touches for Wade is probably a good thing. He's ready to get back to the career arc that had him at the top of the basketball world after just three seasons. The supporting cast isn't quite the same (where have all the shooters gone?) as it was then, but the star is shining as bright as ever.
-- John Schuhmann

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Beasley
There's no denying that Michael Beasley has the talent and the tools to be an impact player in the NBA. Averaging 26.2 points and 12.4 boards as a freshman at Kansas State last season, Beasley dominated the college ranks.

But there are questions about his attitude. He's considered a bit of a goofball and there are countless stories to back up that particular classification. Taking part in the Rookie Transition Program incident in September and not cooperating with the investigation is just the latest example.

Beasley has the ability to put the character issues behind him, though. He may be a goofball, but all indications are that he's willing to work hard on the court and be the best player he can be.

And if that happens, he and Dwyane Wade will be a very dangerous duo in the near future.
-- John Schuhmann

THE STAT
66 The Heat were outrebounded by their opponent in 66 of their 82 games in 2007-08.
Dwyane Wade is back. Hopefully he can stay healthy for the good of the Heat and the league.
Unfortunately, it is going to be very tough for Wade to get this team back to the playoffs all by himself. Yes, they have Shawn Marion, but unless he can get over feeling underappreciated everywhere he goes you may see him shut it down all over again. The man with the strange looking jumper is going to be the key to the Heat's season.
Can two guys carry a team that has one of the biggest turnover in personnel in the last two years and has filled out its roster with less than outstanding talent win in the league? This may be the East, but the answer is not very likely. And that's a shame and one the league will be wringing its hands over.
Everyone would love to see D-Wade back on center stage. He, LeBron and Kobe are the three most talented players in the NBA. Well, MJ was able to get his team to the playoffs time and again and if anyone can do this D-Wade can.
-- NBA Scout
This season should be a different story. If Dwyane Wade's performances with Team USA so far are any indication, he's healthy and ready for a major return to form. The only weakness in Wade's game is his lack of three-point shooting, but he more than makes up for it with huge numbers elsewhere across the board.

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Record: 55-27, 1st in Eastern Conf.
Playoffs: Lost in NBA Finals to L.A. Lakers, 4-2
Scoring Leader: D. Wade, 23.8 PPG
Rebounding Leader: S. Marion, 8.7 RPG
Assist Leader: D. Wade, 4.5 APG

Simulated Season Details
PLAYER/2007-08 STATS PPG RPG APG
PG Chris Quinn 7.8 2.0 3.0
SG Dwyane Wade 24.6 4.2 6.9
SF Shawn Marion 15.4 10.2 2.2
PF Michael Beasley -- -- --
C Udonis Haslem 12.0 9.0 1.4

C Mark Blount 8.4 3.8 0.6
G Mario Chalmers -- -- --
G Daequan Cook 8.8 3.0 1.3
F James Jones 8.0 2.8 0.6
F Dorell Wright 7.9 5.0 1.4
F Michael Beasley Draft
G Mario Chalmers Trade
F-G Yakhouba Diawara Free agent
F James Jones Free agent
C Jamaal Magloire Free agent
F-C Earl Barron Free agent
F-G Ricky Davis Free agent
F Stephane Lasme Free agent
C Alonzo Mourning Free agent
F Kasib Powell Free agent
G Jason Williams Free agent
PPG Dwyane Wade 24.6
RPG Shawn Marion 11.2
APG Dwyane Wade 6.9
SPG Shawn Marion 1.88
BPG Alonzo Mourning 1.68
Points Scored 91.4 (30th)
Points Allowed 100.0 (14th)
Field-Goal Percentage .443 (25th)
Opponents' FG% .468 (26th)
Rebounding Diff. -5.46 (30th)
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