For years, Mario Chalmers has championed the starting point-guard spot in Miami’s rotation. He was the undisputed starter, never really contested by the likes of Norris Cole or Toney Douglas. The Alaskan native had his best statistical performance in the 2014 regular season, and seemed to cement himself as Miami’s starting point for the near-future. Yet, the smoke veil faded fast during the 2014 NBA Finals, where Chalmers played some of his worst basketball in years.
In all fairness, he wasn’t the only one who struggled during the series against the Spurs, but was still undeniably a big hole in our rotation in that time-span. Questions began circulating regarding his spot on the team: “Should Miami let Chalmers walk in free agency?” “Will Norris Cole replace ‘Rio’ in the starting lineup?”
Pat Riley was never one to listen to the outside noise. Being completely confident in his own abilities, he proceeded to resign Chalmers to a 2 yr / $8.30 million contract. Everything seemed great for Mario, as his team was apparently still confident in his abilities. However, Miami still insisted in up trading up to the 24th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, selecting point-guard Shabazz Napier out of UCONN. This only made matters even more confusing when it came to Mario Chalmers.
Now, a few months later, Shabazz Napier is impressing NBA fans with his performance in the preseason. Most recently, he racked up 25 points in an overtime match against the defending world-champions, the San Antonio Spurs. He’s showcased his clutch-factor; his killer gene. Napier has proven himself as a champion in college before, but now he’s proving that he belongs in the NBA. No matter how early it is, it’s easy to tell that this kid is special.
Along with Norris Cole starting at the point spot in the preseason roster, it seems like Chalmers has simply turned into trade fodder. Or has he? If I had to guess about how Miami’s point-situation will look like in two years, I’d talk about how “Rio” would be a great trade asset for picks, or how his contract would only make it more difficult for Miami to sign a star-player in the 2016 free-agency period.
The fact remains: Mario Chalmers will most likely be Miami’s starting point-guard to begin the regular season. He remains the most experienced floor general when compared to Cole and Napier, and certainly the most seasoned. However, this doesn’t mean his future with Miami is safe. Norris Cole is hungry for that position (and is proving himself to be a great perimeter defender), and Napier is showing glimpses of a great-player-in-the-making. All eyes should be on “Rio”, as he knows very well that he must prove himself more than ever.