Though the big man has never been much of an offensive player (2.6 points per game for his career), he is a rim-protecting savant, someone who the Heat actually utilized more than slightly last season.
But that was then and this is now.
One leg injury and two prolific offensive additions later, Anthony had all but fallen out of Miami’s rotation this season. Heading into the Heat’s game against the Atlanta Hawks he was averaging just over six minutes per contest, a far cry from the 21.1 he averaged last season.
And yet, in the midst of a horrendous defensive start, Miami appears willing to revisit then, now.
According to Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald, after an atrocious string of performances on the defensive end, the Heat are ready to re-work Anthony into the rotation:
Anthony is back in the Heat’s rotation and with him defense seems to have returned to AmericanAirlines Arena.
“[Anthony] is a big part of our defense,” Spoelstra said. “If you play him in bursts like that, you see his speed and athleticism.”
“He is a game-changer in short minutes. He has really done a good job in the last two games. I have been trying to find a way to break him into the rotation and I have been able to do it the last two games.”
Anthony logged fewer than 14 minutes against the Hornets but his defensive energy, along with some other minor adjustments to the Heat’s rotation, was enough to blow open the game in the second quarter.
On a team that boasts the likes of Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, some will call for my head for claiming that Anthony can be a savior, yet I stand by my assertion that he could be the key to Miami’s championship defense—offensive shortcomings and all.
I understand that Anthony essentially forces the Heat to play a man down on offense, but what he can do on defense is so much more valuable for a defensive attack that is currently in turmoil.
Heading into the game against Atlanta, Miami was allowing 103.6 points per 100 possessions, the 10th-worst mark in the NBA overall. But that all changes once Anthony is on the floor.
With Anthony in the lineup, opponents are scoring at a rate of just 96.6 points per 100 possessions, nearly seven points below the Heat’s average. More important, though, is that when he’s off the floor, Miami is giving up 108.7 points per 100 possessions, higher than its overall average and 12.1 points higher than when he’s on the floor.
That’s not a coincidence. It’s also not a coincidence that Miami’s rebounding rate increases from 72.4 to 80.5 with him on the hardwood. And it’s certainly no coincidence that opposing teams’ offensive rebounding rate drops from 27.6 to 19.5 with him in play either.
Understandably, it’s going to be slightly more difficult for the Heat operate offensively with him on the floor, but isn’t that worth it at this point? Isn’t it worth it for the Heat to put an end to their defensive woes?
It most certainly is, and that’s why it’s no surprise Anthony has worked his way back into Miami’s no rotation.
And it should also come as no surprise to us how much better off the Heat will be now that he is.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.
All stats in this article are accurate as of December 10, 2012.