By Pedro Heizer
It’s no surprise that Mario Chalmers is having the best year in his NBA career. A reserve point guard most of last season behind players like Carlos Arroyo and Mike Bibby, Chalmers has matured into an invaluable asset for the Heat this season.
Now an engrained starter, Chalmers organizes the Heat’s offense, and his improved accuracy from the perimeter has worked as a counterweight to the attacking styles of James and Wade. Chalmers’ 57 three-pointers this season lead the team.
“Our team has become very accustomed to Mario at the start, and he’s doing a better job of getting us organized, he spreads the floor and plays well off of those guys, he’s shooting the ball very well,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
There was a lot of talk in the beginning of the season that fan-favorite Norris Cole would steal the starting job from Chalmers, but Chalmers flourished in the doubt of the media and fans and is having a career year.
Chalmers’ 51.4 percent shooting from the field, 47.1 percent from three-point range and 81 percent from the free-throw line are all career-highs for the third year man out of Kansas.
What’s the secret to Chalmers’ high three-point percentage? “I’m just moving without the ball and finding various spaces,” explained Chalmers. “I know what LeBron is going to do. I know where his vision is going to be.
Chalmers’ importance to the Heat was never more obvious than during the 102-89 debacle in Orlando to its divisional rivals last week when Chalmers sat with a wrist injury and Spoelstra was forced to start Norris Cole. The disruption to the Heat’s lineup threw off the team’s rhythm.
What’s the secret behind this renaissance in the game of Mario Chalmers?
“I did a lot of work in the summer, watched a lot of film to see where guys like the ball, where I made my mistakes last year and just tried to improve on them,” Chalmers said.
As most know, Chalmers played injured throughout most of last season thanks to an ankle injury he sustained over the summer of 2010 and wasn’t at full strength until the playoffs, where he shined as the Heat’s most consistent player off the bench with 7.8 points per game, and 2.1 assists per game.
Is a healthy Chalmers the X-Factor for the Miami Heat as they approach the playoffs?
Chalmers is fourth in the team in points per game, third in assists and steals per game, only players better than him in all those categories are LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
With numbers like these, it’s hard to make a case against Chalmers. If he keeps these numbers up, not only can Chalmers be invited to play in the three-point shootout during All-Star Weekend, but he will be a solid candidate for the Most Improved Player of the Year award at the end of the season.