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 boxscore statistics contributed to their team's performance. An average player produces an estimated 0.100 wins per 48 minutes (EWP48), a star player produces 0.200+ EWP48 and a superstar produces 0.300+ EWP48. 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
The Heat defense held the Nets below the league average offensive rating of 104.2 points per 100 possessions (according to basketball-reference.com) in each quarter. The New Jersey offense completely melted down by the end of the game with a rating almost 30 points below average in the fourth quarter.
While the New Jersey offense was representing Brick City, the Heat offense was burning up the Nets defense in the first half as the Three Kings began to finally get in sync with one another. This was the first game Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James were all above average in the first quarter with an Estimated Wins Produced per 48 minutes (EWP48) of 0.949(!) for Wade, 0.324 for Bosh and 0.292 for LeBron.
Typically, it's Bosh that gets off to a good start at the beginning of the game, but against the Nets they all came out firing. Public Enemies Nos. 1, 3 and 6 scored 24 of Miami's 29 points to begin the game. The Heat only missed 4 shots in the first quarter. That efficiency resulted in the Heat posting a 140.5 offensive rating in the quarter - 36 points better than average.
Miami won their last two games by dominating the third quarters, but they put this game away in the first quarter with an efficiency differential (offensive rating minus defensive rating) of 54 points. The Wins Produced numbers are derived from efficiency differential and the Heat produced 38% of their win over the Nets in the first period. Miami has only produced 18% of their wins in the first quarter this season, while 44% of the Heat production has come in the third quarter.
For the second game in a row, Dwyane Wade and Carlos Arroyo were the most productive players on the Heat. Wade produced 27% of Miami's win with 0.642 EWP48, which is just insane. For comparison's sake, LeBron was the most productive player in the league last season with 0.429 WP48. Granted, LeBron did that for 2,966 minutes while Wade only did it for 27 minutes - but it was a helluva 27 minutes.
Arroyo topped the 0.400 EWP48 mark for the second consecutive game and was responsible for 18% of the victory. He shot 5-7 from the floor, rebounded well and had a 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio while all of the Nets point guards were below average.
LeBron finally returned to MVP form with 0.413 EWP48 from his 20 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists game in just 29 minutes while Eddie House provided 0.460 EWP48 off the bench with an efficient 11 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists in just 24 minutes. Wade, Arroyo, LeBron and House produced 80% of the Heat win.
Bosh and Zydrunas Ilgauskas played like stars in the frontcourt as they got their jumpers going and only missed three shots between them. Both players topped the 0.200 EWP48 mark.
The spreadsheet below contains the Wins Produced analysis of the game's boxscore. You can also view an easier-to-read version at Google Docs by clicking on the spreadsheet labeled @NETS-103110.
The Big Picture
As incredible as the Heat performance was, the most incredible thing about the game to me was the fans' reaction to LeBron. I've been going to Heat games for the last three years, but I had never seen LeBron play in-person. What a difference he makes.
In the last three years, I've never seen fans gather around the court just to watch pre-game warmups and snap pictures of the players but that's what they did for LeBron.
I've been to Heat playoff games in Atlanta and Boston and sure, they've been booed, but not every time they touched the ball. That's what they did for LeBron in New Jersey. To his credit, he handled it incredibly well. Whenever the boos got too loud, he shut them up with two monster dunks - a two-handed slam from the baseline and a windmill on the fast break that Brook Lopez wanted no parts of. By the second half, the boos were half-hearted.
Yet, while the boos lessened in the second half, a group of drunk fans decided to begin the heckling with disrespectful chants about Delonte West. Of course, they were New Jersey fans so they were too stupid to do it while LeBron was shooting free throws and did it while the Nets were shooting free throws instead.
My point is this - I couldn't imagine trying to survive (let alone thrive) in that type of environment, but that's just what LeBron's doing. He hasn't spit on any fans or kicked a cameraman in the groin. I don't know whether he'll be able to go the whole season without doing either of those things (I wouldn't), but he's doing amazingly well so far and deserves to be commended.
And so do the Heat, for that matter. With the added scrutiny and hatred thrown LeBron's way, the entire team is being baptized by fire. Hopefully, it forges the team into steel that won't break in the playoffs.
The Bigger Picture
Derrick Favors looked good in this game. The Heat could not keep him off the glass as he pulled down nine rebounds in the first half and ended the game with a double-double of 13 points and 13 boards. He was the most productive Nets player by a mile with 0.438 EWP48 and an estimated 0.219 wins produced in 24 minutes. Avery Johnson started a washed up Joe Smith at power forward instead of Favors and I can't figure out why to save my life.
Kris Humphries and Johan Petro also played well, lending credence to the already-old argument that the Heat will struggle with size upfront. The only other Nets player whose production didn't dip below zero was Devin Harris. With seven players in the rotation providing sub-zero production, I can't believe I picked that team to make the playoffs. They really need Troy Murphy to recover from his back injury.
The bigger picture for the Heat is the backcourt, the defense, LeBron and depth.
After four games, the top producers for Miami are Wade and Arroyo with a combined 1.3 Estimated Wins Produced, accounting for 39% of the Heat's production. With the Boston game behind him, Wade's productivity has climbed to 0.281 EWP48 and 0.782 Est. Wins Produced. That's not surprising, that's typical Dwyane Wade (actually, slightly below what he averaged for the last two years).
What is surprising is the production of Arroyo. Arroyo produced 0.095 WP48 last season (close to average), but this season his production has skyrocketed to 0.280 EWP48. I think a significant cause of this increase in his production is the Heat defense limiting the production of opposing point guards and thus increasing the margin between their production and Arroyo's.
The average Win Score per 48 minutes (a simplified model of Wins Produced) for a point guard playing in a Heat game is just 2.8. Last season, the average Win Score for an NBA point guard was 6.6. This season, Arroyo's Win Score has improved to 7.6, but the average performance of point guards in Heat games has declined by nearly four points. If the Heat defense can keep opposing point guards in check and Arroyo can continue to play efficient basketball, the point guard spot shouldn't be a problem for Miami this season.
Another good sign after four games is that LeBron's production is rapidly trending upward. After the Nets game, his productivity for the season was finally above average at 0.102 EWP48. LeBron has been above average in every part of the boxscore except two - steals and turnovers. His average of 8.6 turnovers per 48 minutes is holding down his production.
I sat next to the friend of a Nets' shooting coach at the game and he told me that the coach watched LeBron practice the night before the game at the Izod Center. He said LeBron only worked on two things Saturday night - his three-point shooting and his passing. Well, he was 0-3 from behind the arc against the Nets and had five turnovers. Keep practicing LeBron. At some point, it's got to pay off.
On a brighter note, Erik Spoelstra's rotation is encouraging after four games. 90.3 percent of the minutes played have been allocated to players providing above average production (i.e. EWP48 > 0.100). Eight players in the nine-man rotation have been above average (Joel Anthony is the lone exception).
You can find all of the updated stats for the Heat Estimated Wins Produced on the Heat Produced page.
Unless referenced otherwise, original game data used for this post was taken from popcornmachine.net and espn.com.