Monday, January 24, 2011

Heat Produced: The Lineups Change, Losing Streak Ends & Mike Miller Era Begins

The Heat Produced Page has been updated with stats from the Hawks and Raptors games.

Three stories came out of these two games:

  1. LeBron James went nuts on the Hawks in the Heat's third overtime game of the last two weeks. Some people questioned his decision-making since the Heat lost, but his performance in OT led me to a different question. When have the Heat players been productive in games? Who wins when?
  2. Lineups, lineups, lineups. Injuries to the Three Kings forced Coach Erik Spoelstra to use a lot of different lineups this week. Heat fans have spent a lot of time questioning Spoelstra's lineups all season. So now that everybody on the roster except for Jamaal Magloire has seen substantial minutes, which lineups have been the most productive for the Heat?
  3. Mike Miller dominated the Toronto Raptors in Dwyane Wade's absence. How dominant was he?

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:



Who Wins When?
LeBron James scored 10 of his game-high 34 points in overtime against the Hawks last Tuesday night and produced an estimated 1.771 wins per 48 minutes in overtime. Yes, that's nearly 18 times better than the average player and LeBron's OT production accounted for 38% of the team's estimated wins produced for the game.

The spreadsheet below contains the Estimated Wins Produced analysis of the box score for the game against the Hawks. You can also view it at Google Docs (click on the spreadsheet labeled HAWKS-011811).


The Hawks game made LeBron the King of OT for the Heat this season. He has produced an estimated 0.3 wins in overtime this season with an average of 0.663 Est. WP48. Dwyane Wade is a distant second with an estimated 0.1 wins produced and 0.129 Est. WP48.

The spreadsheet below shows the Heat's production in overtime this season.


Being the King of OT is nice, but LeBron has done most of his work in the third quarter this season. The Heat have produced an estimated 9.1 wins in the third quarter and more than one-third of those have come from LeBron.

LeBron was terrible in the third quarter against the Hawks with -0.135 Est. Wins Produced and -0.596 Est. WP48. For the season, however, he produces an average 0.318 Est. WP48. The biggest difference between LeBron's third quarter averages and season averages is shooting. He's a much more efficient shooter in the third quarter with an adjusted shooting percentage of 55%. His adjusted shooting percentage for the season is 51.5%.

The Heat have also produced an estimated 9.1 wins in the second quarter this season and that's because it's been when Wade goes to work. Spoelstra's rotation usually has Wade start the second quarter while LeBron rests from playing the entire first quarter and Wade has used that "alone time" to significantly increase his shot attempts, free throw attempts, scoring, rebounding, turnovers and assists. His second quarter command of the offense has accounted for 26.3% of the team's estimated production in the period.

While Wade and LeBron have been at their best in the second and third quarters, Chris Bosh has been at his best in the first quarter. The Heat have produced an estimated 8.3 wins in the first quarter and Bosh was responsible for 22.9% of them. There's no difference in between his first quarter shooting efficiency and season average, but Bosh takes a few more shots to score a few more points when the game starts and also grabs more rebounds to increase his production.

The only other player whose quarterly performance cracks the top 10 for the Heat is Mario Chalmers. Chalmers typically plays the entire second quarter in Spoelstra's rotation and he's taken advantage of the opportunity to play like a star with an average 0.207 Est. WP48. His improved shooting efficiency, scoring, rebounding and assists account for 14.2% of the Heat's production in the second quarter.

Dan LeBatard calls Mario Chalmers the most frustrating player on  the Heat and there may be nothing more frustrating than the dropoff in his production from the second to third quarters. His third period performance has been the second-worst this season with an average -0.150 Est. WP48.

The spreadsheets below list the 10 best and worst players by quarter for the Heat this season.



There's a lot to be said about the players' quarterly performances, so I'll be posting about this more in the future.

Lineups, Lineups, Lineups
The Heat lost two games without LeBron last week and many people said it illustrated his true value to the team. Well, this week the Heat went 1-1 without Bosh and Wade, so what does that say about their value?

I have no idea, but what I do know is that Spoelstra used a bunch of lineups to makeup for their absence. In the Hawks game, Couper Morehead identified at least eight different lineups for HEAT.com, but the big story about lineups in that game was Wade and LeBron playing without Bosh. 

Based on data from basketballvalue.com, lineups featuring the Three Kings have produced an efficiency differential of +14.2 this season. Efficiency differential is simply points scored per 100 possessions minus points allowed per 100 possessions. A differential of +14.2 would translate to 78 wins over an 82-game season if the Three Kings could play every minute of it.

Lineups featuring Wade and LeBron without Bosh have only managed to produce an efficiency differential of -7. A differential that low would only translate to 23 wins over an 82-game season.

Do those numbers illustrate the true value of Bosh? Maybe. Maybe not.

One explanation for the change in production without Bosh could be that his backup is bad. With Udonis Haslem injured, Bosh's backup is Juwan Howard, the least productive player on the team with an estimated -0.1 wins produced and -0.009 Est. WP48. 

The efficiency differentials for the three lineups that  played the most minutes featuring Wade and LeBron without Bosh improved drastically when Howard was replaced with more productive players:
  1. Arroyo-Wade-James-Howard (-0.009 Est. WP48)-Anthony, 18.2 minutes, -11.9
  2. Wade-Jones-James-Haslem (0.124 Est. WP48)-Ilgauskas, 17.5 minutes, +2.9
  3. Chalmers-House-Wade-James (0.248 Est. WP48)-Anthony, 15.8 minutes, +20

Of course, another explanation could be the one Spoelstra gave in an excellent Q&A with NBA.com's John Schuhmann:
[Bosh] is probably our most important player, especially early on in the season. He's our crutch. He's our bail-out. We're able to run the offense through him and facilitate ball movement through him, easier than anything else we do.
It's because of his skill set and because we can play our high-post offense through him, with our cuts and movement. We can play him out of the low post with cuts and movement. And we can get into our normal pick-and-roll game, either by running it with him and throwing the ball back to him; or running a pick-and-roll with somebody else, rolling that guy, and replacing with him.
So there's so many different things we can do where the ball ends up in his hands, and it will facilitate another action. That's why, offensively, he's had the biggest impact. It's really been understated how important he's been to making this whole thing work.
The spreadsheet below lists the efficiency differential for Heat lineups with and without the Three Kings. You can also view it at Google Docs.


In the game against the Raptors, the Heat played lineups featuring LeBron without Wade and Bosh. As you can see in the spreadsheet above, the LeBron solo act has been a good one for the Heat with an efficiency differential of +16 that translates to a 1.001 winning percentage. Well, the Heat came close to matching that level of production against the Raptors with an estimated 0.962 wins produced.

Of course, Cavalier fans would probably say the LeBron solo act was good for the last two seasons, too.

My initial thought was that the Heat supporting cast was better than the one routinely getting its brain beat in by double digits every night for the Cavaliers. The justification for that response was THIS, but I got a little concerned after looking through the data published at basketballvalue.com. Lineups without the Three Kings have only produced an efficiency differential of -12.8, which translates to just eight wins.

Is the Heat supporting cast really that bad without the Three Kings? Was LeBron just playing with a bunch of scrubs against Toronto?

I'm not sure how bad the supporting cast is, but I do know LeBron wasn't playing with a bunch of scrubs against the Raptors. Mike Miller (0.585 Est. WP48), James Jones (0.417 Est. WP48) and Joel Anthony (0.223 Est. WP48) were all more productive than LeBron (0.172 Est. WP48) in the win over Toronto.

LeBron's 38 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes at power forward were impressive, but his productivity was consistent with the previous 30 minutes he played at power forward this season with an Est. WP48 of 0.179.

One last lineup note - Carlos Arroyo lost his starting point guard job to Chalmers for the Toronto game. Arroyo's production has fallen off like Wile E. Coyote and Spoelstra finally decided he couldn't live with it anymore, I guess. Arroyo has only averaged -0.020 Est. WP48 in the last month and he was the least productive player against the Raptors with -0.392 Est.WP48.

The spreadsheet below contains the Estimated Wins Produced analysis of the box score for the game against the Raptors. You can also view it at Google Docs (click on the spreadsheet labeled RAPTORS-012211).



The Mike Miller Era Begins
Everybody knows by now that Mike Miller blew up in Saturday night's game against the Raptors. Hell, he was still a trending topic in Miami during the NFL conference championships!

How good was he? Let's stay on twitter to find out. Here's a tweet from the guy Miller replaced in the game, Dwyane Wade, "Dwyane who??? Hello Mike Miller.. Great team win today..way to step up and show out M&M.."


Miller produced an estimated 0.401 wins in 32.9 minutes for an Est. WP48 of 0.585. In the Heat's last game against the Raptors, Wade produced an estimated 0.356 wins in 35.2 minutes for an Est. WP48 of 0.485.

So, how good was Miller? He was "Dwyane who???" good. Let's take a closer look to see where Miller's performance against Toronto was better than Wade's.


Miller performed better than Wade did against the Raptors in every category except free throw attempts, turnovers,  blocked shots and fouls. Those advantages resulted in him being more productive than Wade was against Toronto in November.

Miller's performance was the 13th most productive game by a Heat player this season. It ranks just below the estimated 0.403 wins produced by Eddie House in Memphis and just ahead of the estimated 0.398 wins produced by LeBron when he put on a show for Michael Jordan in Charlotte.

My last thought on Miller is, "What a difference a game makes." Before Saturday night's game against the Raptors he was the least productive player on the team averaging -0.134 Est. WP48. After the game against Toronto, his average improved to 0.020 Est. WP48 and he moved ahead of Juwan Howard and Jerry Stackhouse on the Heat Produced list.

You can find all of the Estimated Wins Produced stats for the Miami Heat this season on the Heat Produced page.

Unless referenced otherwise, original game data used for this post was taken from popcornmachine.net and nba.com.

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