Thirty teams, 30 burning fantasy questions. Throughout the preseason, we put one of these questions to an ESPN.com analyst for an in-depth look at the most interesting, perplexing or dumbfounding fantasy facet of each NBA team. Be sure to check out the 30 Questions Index to see them all.
Which Heat player will be a super hot sub?
Miami radiates with a certain star power. It's like the L.A. of the Southeast. The Heat have big-name players like Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal. They also have the flashiest coach in the biz in Pat Riley. They just made a splash with a blockbuster trade for Ricky Davis, who will add instant offense to the starting lineup.
But who's going to come off the Heat bench to provide a spark and steal the spotlight? Last year's "super sub" was Jason Kapono, who came out of obscurity to post career highs in all categories, with 10.9 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 0.6 steals in 26 minutes per game, including 35 starts. Kapono also shot lights-out from every distance: 89.2 percent from the free-throw line, 49.4 percent from the field and an amazing 51.4 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Unfortunately for the Heat, Kapono took his sharp-shooting act north of the border to Toronto, his fourth team in five NBA seasons. So who will become this year's version of Jason Kapono?
Let's see if you can guess him. My nominee for this season's "Best Supporting Sub" is also a journeyman like Kapono; the Heat will be his fifth team in as many seasons. You might not know it, but he is one of only four players in the NBA to have recorded at least 110 3-point field goals made and 110 steals in both the past two seasons – the other three are Gilbert Arenas, Kobe Bryant and Jason Kidd. You also probably wouldn't recognize him by his given name, William. OK, if you can't stand the suspense any longer, I'll let you in on the best kept secret in Miami: Smush Parker.
Parker will be backing up Jason Williams at point guard, although with Wade out, he could get additional minutes right out of the gate. Parker is 26 years old and durable, averaging more than 30 minutes while playing in all 82 games each of the past two seasons for the Lakers. Williams (31) is not exactly a model of health, having played only 59 and 61 games, respectively, the past two years. So Smush will get his minutes, and when he enters the lineup, he'll be one of the better-scoring options in Miami's second unit. Last year with the Lakers, Parker averaged 11.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals in 30 minutes per game. Those are pretty Kapono-esque numbers. Smush doesn't have Kapono's shooting touch, managing only 64.6 percent from the line, 43.6 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point range last year. However, with Miami's strong inside-out game, he could benefit from some better shot selection and improve his accuracy. In his first four preseason games, Smush made 41.7 percent of his three-point attempts.
In addition to looking for his own shot, Parker should be able to improve on his assist totals by feeding the ball to teammates Wade, Shaq and Davis. The Heat have more scoring options than the Kobe-centric Lakers, so Smush should be able to dish his wish.
For the sake of discussion, I did consider other candidates for this year's super sub and on paper, some of these guys actually seem like they can play. Youngsters Dorell Wright (23 minutes a game in the preseason), Daequan Cook (22) and Chris Quinn (21) are getting plenty of floor time lately, but all are shooting under 40 percent from the field. When the regular season starts, you can be sure that coach Riley will have his young players firmly rooted on the bench, and none of them will be fantasy worthy for awhile.
Given Miami's injury problems and aging lineup, Smush Parker will get the best opportunity to accumulate stats. It might surprise you to learn that last season, he ranked second in points scored (907) and minutes played (2,457) on the Lakers, trailing only Kobe. Fantasy is a game of numbers, and the most important number is minutes, so don't overlook Smush – the durable man with the soft name.
Anthony Targan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.