Saturday, December 11, 2010

Miami Heat Check: The Bench Is Second To None

I got a great question and comment from Giovanni Valladares at Bleacher Report:

"How many wins does Miami's bench produce? With and without Haslem and Miller? And how do they rank compared to other NBA benches?

I just hate that Miami's bench gets no credit and is often underrated. They haven't been too good as of late but with U.D. and Miller I gotta believe they would be one of the top benches."

Three great questions. It took longer than I expected to pull together the stats, but I finally pulled them together from the Heat Produced pageNerd Numbers and to get the answers for Giovanni.

NOTE: The numbers used in this article do not include stats from last night's game against the Golden State Warriors.

This article will use Win Score and 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 performance. An average player produces 0.100 wins per 48 minutes (WP48), a star player produces 0.200+ WP48 and a superstar produces 0.300+ WP48. More information on these stats can be found at the following links:

How Many Wins Does Miami's Bench Produce?
The Heat bench has produced an estimated 3.8 wins this season with an estimated 0.087 WP48. The Heat have produced an estimated 17.1 wins this season, so the bench has been responsible for 22 percent of the team's production while playing 38 percent of the minutes.

The most productive players coming off the bench for Miami have been James Jones (0.133 Est. WP48), Udonis Haslem (0.124 Est. WP48), Mario Chalmers (0.123 Est. WP48) and Jamaal Magloire (0.193 Est. WP48). Those four players have produced an estimated 3.1 wins in 1,153.4 minutes off the bench and are the only reserves whose productivity has been above average this season.

The rest of the reserves - Eddie House (0.085 Est. WP48), Juwan Howard (0.065 Est. WP48), Erick Dampier (0.074 Est. WP48), Jerry Stackhouse (0.011 Est. WP48) and Joel Anthony (-0.041 Est. WP48) - have only combined to produce an estimated 0.7 wins and most of that production came from House.

How Is the Bench With and Without Haslem or Miller?
I broke this question down into five separate questions:

  1. How many wins does the bench produce with Haslem?
  2. How many wins does the bench produce without Haslem?
  3. How many wins would the bench produce if Miller played in the first 23 games (Haslem still gets hurt)?
  4. How many wins does the bench produce with Miller, but no Haslem?
  5. How many wins does the bench produce with Miller and Haslem?

Here are the answers:

  1. With Haslem in the rotation, the bench produced an estimated 0.095 WP48. If he stayed healthy, then the bench would have produced an estimated 4.2 wins this season. The extra 0.4 wins produced would give the Heat an estimated 17.5 wins produced for the season, so maybe Haslem's health cost Miami an extra win so far.

  2. Without Haslem in the rotation, the bench has produced an estimated 0.079 WP48 this season. The problem is that Haslem's minutes in the rotation have been given to Juwan Howard and Erick Dampier who have been much less productive. I projected Dampier to be an above average player this season (0.130 WP48) based on his age and productivity last season, but I also said I didn't think he would hit that projection after he signed with the Heat.

    In his first seven games with Miami, Dampier has been below average in shooting efficiency, getting to the line, scoring and rebounding. Yes, the big man all the critics were clamoring for the Heat to sign has been a below average rebounder for the Heat. He's averaging 10.9 rebounds per 48 minutes while the typical center in a Heat game is averaging 12.2 rebounds per 48 minutes. If Dampier improves to his projected level of productivity, then the productivity off the bench will get closer to its UD-levels.

    As for Juwan Howard, he's been bad at everything except shooting and passing the basketball (which may be good for the Heat offense, but not much else). Unlike Dampier, I have no hope that he will improve.

  3. I had a difficult time figuring out how Coach Erik Spoelstra would give Miller minutes in his rotation if he was available all season, so I took the lazy approach and just replaced James Jones with Mike Miller's projected productivity. In that scenario, the bench's productivity increases from an estimated 0.087 WP48 and 3.8 wins produced to an estimated 0.112 WP48 and 5 wins produced. If Miller was coming off the bench, and producing as expected, then the Heat could be just 1.5 games behind the Celtics in the Eastern Conference instead of three.

  4. The previous answer includes 13 games of production from UD but when Miller comes back this season, Haslem will still be recovering from the torn ligament in his foot. With Miller coming off the bench without Haslem, the Heat's productivity off the bench would be an estimated 0.087 WP48 if Miller takes Jones' spot in the rotation. If Spoelstra takes minutes from Jones or Chalmers, then the Heat won't get anymore productivity than they've already gotten to this point off the bench, but if Spoelstra decides to go small and takes minutes from Howard or Dampier then the bench could be more productive than it is now. It will be interesting to see what he does when Miller returns.

  5. In the dream scenario, with both Miller and UD coming off the bench, the reserves' productivity jumps from an estimated 0.087 WP48 to an estimated 0.129 WP48. If the Heat had both players healthy all season, then the Heat could have two extra wins right now and be breathing down Boston's neck for the number one seed.

How Do The Heat Rank Compared To Other NBA Benches?
HATER ALERT: This is where the article gets scary.

Despite injuries to Haslem and Miller, the Heat have the second-most productive bench this season with 0.090 WP48 (see the spreadsheet below, based on original data available from the Wins Produced Viewer and

The Magic have the most productive bench in the NBA with an average WP48 of 0.097 and the Lakers are third with an average production of 0.087 WP48 coming from their bench.

Without Miller and Haslem, the Heat bench is averaging an estimated 0.079 WP48, which would be fifth-best in the league. With Miller and Haslem coming off the bench, the Heat would have the best bench in the NBA by a good margin (+0.032 WP48). If the Heat and Magic both give 40 percent of the available minutes to their benches, the Heat's advantage with Miller and Haslem coming off the bench would translate to an extra 5 wins. Not a bad advantage to have over a division rival.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that Miller is looking to return December 25th but the Heat don't expect him to be healthy until January. As impressive as the Heat have looked during this seven-game winning streak, it can get even better with the return of Miller (and Haslem?).

Don't you love the holidays?


  1. The Heat Index is burning up!

    Unfortunately, no one will ever give them any credit for what they do, because they can always use the standby "Yeah, but how will they do in the playoffs in the later rounds?"

    So it's a lose-lose for the Heat ... unless they win it all. Then it's pure win.

  2. I agree, but they know it's championship or bust. LeBron has been saying it since July 9th.

    The crazy thing is that people hate the team so much that I saw a comment from a Celtics fan on Bleacher Report that they would root for the Lakers if the Heat face them in the Finals. Now that's hatred... and insanity.