Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Heat Check: The Rhime & Reason of Who's On Point

On Monday, Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra announced that Mario Chalmers would replace Carlos Arroyo as the starting point guard.

Ethan J. Skolnick reported the following comments from Spoelstra in the Palm Beach Post
"It was a tough decision," coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday, explaining why Chalmers has replaced Carlos Arroyo as the primary point guard. "It really wasn't anything that Carlos was doing wrong. He was doing everything I asked him to do. I think this is what's best for the team right now."
Is Spoelstra right? Was Arroyo doing everything right? Is Chalmers really what's best for the team right now?

Let's use Wins Produced to check the rhyme and reason of who's on point for the Heat...

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 (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:

Was Carlos Arroyo Doing Anything Wrong?
Arroyo started 42 of the Heat's 44 games at point guard. The Heat have played five players at point guard but nearly 43% of the available minutes were given to Arroyo. Unfortunately, he's been the least productive player at point guard this season.

The spreadsheet below lists the productivity of each Heat player with more than 100 minutes at PG this season. To view the full spreadsheet, click HERE.

As you can see in the spreadsheet above, Arroyo did everything in the boxscore wrong except for shooting efficiency (from the floor and the line), turnovers and fouls. In fact, he's the only player that's been below average at PG this season.

Is Chalmers What's Best?
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that Spoelstra decided to go with Chalmers over Arroyo to spark the Heat back-to-life after going 1-4 in their last five games.
"I've seen some real slippage now for really most of the month of January," Spoelstra said. "Can one player change that? I'm not expecting that. But sometimes one alteration in the rotation can spark something that's different. And that's what I'm looking for right now."
The key phrase from Spoelstra's quote is "slippage". The reason why "slippage" is important is because there isn't that much difference in Chalmers' and Arroyo's overall numbers this season.

If the difference between Chalmers' and Arroyo's production remains 0.020 estimated wins per 48 minutes for the rest of the season and Chalmers played Arroyo's minutes, then it would only result in 0.4 more estimated wins for the Heat.

Spoelstra, however, focused on "slippage" for "most of the month of January". How bad was the slippage?

The spreadsheet below lists the production of Arroyo and Chalmers in January. To view the full spreadsheet, click HERE.

As you can see, there's been considerable slippage in January. Arroyo's biggest strengths this season have been his shooting efficiency and turnover ratio but his shooting has been below average and his turnovers have increased by 61% in January.

The slippage at PG doesn't stop with Arroyo, though. Chalmers' performance has also declined in January. His steals have gone slightly down and his turnovers have gone up to the point that his ball-handling is now below average.

If Chalmers's production doesn't return to his season averages, then Spoelstra may not get the type of spark he's looking for from this change in the rotation. In his first game as a starter, though, Chalmers responded with 0.151 Est. WP48 in 35.3 minutes.

Of course, Chalmers' first game came against the Toronto Raptors, a team that has allowed opposing point guards to increase their production by nine percent this season (based on PER stats from 82games.com). Fortunately for Heat fans, Chalmers doesn't plan to take comfort in one good performance.

From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
"When things are going good, you got to keep 'em going good, you can't get relaxed," he said.
Here's to Chalmers keeping things going good...

Unless noted otherwise, all stats for this post were taken from the Heat Produced Page.

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