Friday, September 17, 2010

Who Is The Greatest Forward In Miami Heat History? Not LeBron James. Not Yet.

The Greatest Heat Team of All Time - ESPN has a great app (click the link above) that allows fans to pick the best players of all-time for your favorite team so I decided to take some time to identify the most productive Heat players from the app using player data from to estimate the Wins Produced by each player.

This article will use Win Score and Estimated Wins Produced, statistical models created by Professor David Berri from the Wages of Wins Journal, to measure how much a player's box score statistics contributed to their team's efficiency differential and wins. An average player produces an estimated 0.100 wins per 48 minutes (Est.WP48), a star player produces +0.200 Est.WP48 and a superstar produces +0.300 Est.WP48. More information on these stats can be found at the following links:

Simple Models of Player Performance
Wins Produced vs. Win Score
What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say
Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

Here are the choices from for each position:

PG - Bimbo Coles, Sherman Douglas, Tim Hardaway, Jason Williams
SG - Kevin Edwards, Eddie Jones, Steve Smith, Dwyane Wade
SF - Grant Long*, Jamal Mashburn, Glen Rice
PF - P.J. Brown, Brian Grant, Udonis Haslem
C - Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O'Neal, Rony Seikaly

*Bhemis Parks caught an important error on - Grant Long played power forward for the Heat, not small forward. Unfortunately, you cannot vote for him as a power forward.

Here's the greatest Miami Heat team of all-time, according to their Estimated Wins Produced (EWP) for the franchise:

PG: Tim Hardaway (35.3 EWP, 95.3%, 1st)
SG: Dwyane Wade (86.2 EWP, 98.2%, 1st)
SF: Glen Rice (39.2 EWP, 88.9%, 1st)
PF: Udonis Haslem (47.5 EWP, 41.9%, 1st)
C: Alonzo Mourning (67.3 EWP, 63.9%, 1st)

Here's the greatest Miami Heat team of all-time according to their Estimated Wins Produced per 48 Minutes (an average player produces 0.100 wins per 48 minutes):

PG: Sherman Douglas (0.129 EWP48, 2.5%, 2nd)
SG: Dwyane Wade (0.234 EWP48, 98.2%, 1st)
SF: Glen Rice (0.110 EWP48, 88.9%, 1st)
PF: Udonis Haslem (0.143 EWP48, 41.9%, 1st)
C: Shaquille O'Neal (0.207 EWP48, 34.4%, 2nd)

It looks like Miami Heat fans in the ESPN SportsNation have a pretty good grasp on which players have actually made the biggest contributions to the franchise's 861 wins. The seven players listed above were responsible for 316.8 of those wins. The 17 players listed in the ESPN poll were responsible for 544.5 wins. That means roughly 10 percent of the 179 players that signed a contract with the Heat were responsible for 63 percent of the victories. This summer, the team signed two new players that are expected to be responsible for a lot of wins — LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Where will they stand amongst the greatest Heat players of all-time?

LeBron's career average EWP48 of 0.294 would already make him the best Heat forward of all-time in that respect. If he provided that productivity for 6,400 minutes in a Heat uniform (a little more than two seasons at his current average for minutes played), then he would become the most productive small forward in Miami team history, passing Glen Rice. Last year, LeBron'sWP48 was 0.441 (see HERE). At that pace, he would become the Heat's most productive small forward ever by the 2012 all-star game (assuming there's no lockout). As for the title of best Heat forward, Udonis Haslem has a 47.5 win lead. Last season, LeBron produced 18.5 more wins than Haslem (see HERE). At that rate, it could take LeBron two-and-a-half seasons to surpass Haslem, assuming both players maintain their health and productivity.

Bosh is another issue. His career average EWP48 of 0.202 means that he would not pass LeBron as the best forward in Heat history without an injury or some other mitigating circumstances. Last season, he produced six more wins than Haslem (see HERE). Bosh would need to maintain that advantage across eight seasons and a contract extension to become the best Heat power forward of all-time. If Bosh played center for the Heat, then he would need a little more than six seasons of his average productivity (and a contract extension) to supplant Mourning as the best center in Miami team history. It looks like Bosh will have to rely on championships for Heat fans to consider him one of the greatest Heat players ever because his numbers alone may not get the job done.

A Few Interesting Points:
1. Wade is already the franchise leader in Estimated Wins Produced with 86.2. Alonzo Mourning is a distant second with 67.3. LeBron produced 9 more wins than Wade last season (see HERE) but Wade's got such a big head start it could take nine seasons for LeBron to catch him if both players remain relatively healthy and productive in a Heat uniform. So for those wondering whose team it is, it looks like South Florida will always be Wade County.

2. Sherman Douglas (0.129 EWP48) barely beat out Tim Hardaway (0.128 EWP48) for the best career EWP48 by a Heat point guard. His first season with the Heat was his best and that just happened to be the season he was on my inaugural fantasy team. Why did I draft a rookie PG on an expansion team? Simple - I loved watching him in college (even though I'm a Hoyas fan, plus he lost 2 out of 3 to Georgetown his senior year) and I needed assists (he shares the single-game NCAA record with Avery Johnson). Thanks, General - you definitely came through for me.

3. Despite not making either all-time Heat team, DJ Rony Seikaly (no, seriously) is the 5th most productive player in Heat history.

Here's how the 17 players selected by rank overall by Estimated Wins Produced:

1. Dwyane Wade (0.234 EWP48, 86.2 EWP)
2. Alonzo Mourning (0.182 EWP48, 67.3 EWP)
3. Udonis Haslem (0.143 EWP48, 47.5 EWP)
4. Rony Seikaly (0.154 EWP48, 45.7 EWP)
5. Eddie Jones (0.151 EWP48, 44.4 EWP)
6. Glen Rice (0.110 EWP48, 39.2 EWP)
7. Tim Hardaway (0.128 EWP48, 35.3 EWP)
8. Grant Long (0.091 EWP48, 28.1 EWP)
9. Shaquille O'Neal (0.207 EWP48, 27.5 EWP)
10. Brian Grant (0.119 EWP48, 24.8 EWP)
11. P.J. Brown (0.127 EWP48, 23.4 EWP)
12. Steve Smith (0.115 EWP48, 15.3 EWP)
13. Bimbo Coles (0.076 EWP48, 15.1 EWP)
14. Sherman Douglas (0.129 EWP48, 13.8 EWP)
15. Jason Williams (0.106 EWP48, 12.4 EWP)
16. Jamal Mashburn (0.069 EWP48, 9.5 EWP)
17. Kevin Edwards (0.046 EWP48, 9.2 EWP)

4. Despite not making either all-time Heat team, Brian Grant likely had the best season of any power forward in Heat history in 2003 with an estimated 12.1 wins produced and 0.221 EWP48. However, Chris Bosh produced 14 wins last season with 0.266 WP48 (see HERE) so don't expect that record to last beyond April 2011. Here are the best seasons in Heat history by position, according to Estimated Wins Produced:

PG: Tim Hardaway (1996-97, 0.169 EWP48, 11.0 EWP)
SG: Dwyane Wade (2008-09, 0.329 EWP48, 20.9 EWP)
SF: Glen Rice (1994-95, 0.167 EWP48, 10.5 EWP)
PF: Brian Grant (2002-03, 0.221 EWP48, 12.1 EWP)
C: Shaquille O'Neal (2004-05, 0.280 EWP48, 14.5 EWP)

Here are three other notable seasons in Heat history, by position:

SG - Eddie Jones (2004-05, 0.169 EWP48, 10.0 EWP, 6th best season at position)
PF - Udonis Haslem (2004-05, 0.198 EWP48, 11.1 EWP, 2nd best season at position)
C - Alonzo Mourning (1999-00, 0.250 EWP48, 14.3 EWP, 2nd best season at position)

Do you think LeBron James will end his career as the all-time leader in wins produced for the Miami Heat? Or will it be Dwyane Wade? Can Chris Bosh catch Alonzo Mourning? Are there any notable Heat players omitted from this post? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

All stats used for this post can be found in this spreadsheet.


  1. Given that Jason Williams and Jamal Mashburn are below Bimbo Coles in the rankings, I think it's safe to say they didn't quite live up to their potential.

  2. I agree with you on Mashburn (maybe that's why those Heat teams never beat the Knicks) but Jason Williams would've passed Bimbo if he had stayed with the team longer. Bimbo was a below average player (an average player would post a 0.100 EWP48) and Jason Williams was not.

  3. Hey, how do you like the 4 letter network stealing your idea for a website? Love your stuff, amigo.