Thursday, March 3, 2011

Did Losing to the Knicks Push Arroyo Out and Bring Bibby In?

The rumors started shortly after the Miami Heat suffered their worst loss of the season. The New York Knicks were leaving Biscayne Boulevard with a 91-86 win and Mike Bibby was on his way to give the team what they so desperately needed.

Wait... what?!?

How can a team that added LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the off-season need anything Mike Bibby has to offer? The same Mike Bibby that the Atlanta Hawks determined wasn't as good as Kirk Hinrich? Why would anyone think that he was needed in Miami?

I think you have to understand that loss to the Knicks in order to understand why Heat fans and management thought Bibby was desperately needed in Miami.

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:

In order to understand what happened in the game against the Knicks, let's take a look at the boxscore and the estimated wins produced by each team in that game.

The key takeaway from the game is that the Heat outplayed the Knicks at every position except point guard.  New York point guards produced an estimated 0.226 wins while Miami point guards only produced an estimated -0.026 wins.

Chauncey Billups produced 97 percent of the Knicks' estimated wins at point guard in Sunday's game. The other New York point guards, Anthony Carter and Toney Douglas, only accounted for 0.006 estimated wins produced.

The Heat gave four players minutes at point guards during the game:
  • Mario Chalmers: 25 minutes played, 0.078 est. WP48
  • Eddie House: 13.8 minutes played, -0.150 est. WP48
  • LeBron James: 7.6 minutes played, -0.070 est. WP48
  • Dwyane Wade: 1.6 minutes played, -0.362 est. WP48

Maybe the Knicks' domination of the Heat at the point guard position was the tipping point for Pat Riley and triggered the decision to sign Bibby.

Can Bibby actually help?

If Riley just went off Bibby's performance against the Heat this season, then he would've concluded that Bibby can't help. This spreadsheet illustrates Bibby's performance against the Heat point guards this season in head-to-head matchups.

In head-to-head matchups with the Heat this season, Bibby has been below average shooting the ball, creating his own shot, getting to the free throw line, scoring, steals, assists and fouls. As a result, his production has been well below average at just 0.039 est. WP48.

Chalmers on the other hand, has produced 0.152 est. WP48 in head-to-head matchups with Bibby and has been above average in every category except creating his own shot, getting to the line, scoring, assists and fouls. Bibby was better than Carlos Arroyo in head-to-head matchups. Arroyo only managed to produce -0.153 est. WP48 and perhaps that's one of the reasons he was waived to make room for Bibby.

Bringing Bibby in to replace Arroyo is one thing, but Arroyo didn't even play against the Knicks. Is Bibby better than the other options the Heat have at point guard?

This spreadsheet compares Bibby's stats for the 2010-11 season to the stats logged by players that have gotten more than 100 minutes at point guard for the Heat this season and the position averages for point guards in Heat and Hawks games.

By this comparison, the most productive point guard for the Heat would be Dwyane Wade who has posted a Win Score per 48 minutes (WS48) of 11. Wade has been above average in every category except free throw shooting, turnovers and assists (where he's slightly below average). The average point guard only produces a Win Score of 5.5 so Wade has been twice as good as the average point guard. LeBron is a distant second with a 6.7 Win Score and has been below average at shooting, steals and turnovers.

Unfortunately, Wade and LeBron have only played 13 percent of the Heat's minutes at point guard this season and neither seems willing to play more.

After LeBron, Bibby and Chalmers are very close. Bibby has produced a 6.1 Win Score while Chalmers has produced a 6.0 Win Score, but Chalmers has a higher Position-Adjusted Win Score because the Heat have held opposing point guards to lower levels of production than the Hawks. Point guards have only averaged a 5.0 Win Score against the Heat but have averaged a 7.6 Win Score against the Hawks. The average NBA point guard produces a 6.2 Win Score.

The difference between the two Win Scores is related to each team's defense. According to, the Heat rank fourth in defensive efficiency while the Hawks rank 13th. The Hawks shouldn't be expected to hold the production of opposing point guards as low as the Heat, but since they do have a slightly above average defense, it's a little surprising to see opposing point guards' production has been above average against them.

If the Heat defense had allowed point guards to be as productive as the Hawks have all season, then it would cost the team an estimated three wins produced and drop them behind the Bulls for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

If the Heat defense was able to continue holding point guards to the same low level of production with Bibby in the lineup all season, then they would have an extra 0.3 estimated wins produced. That wouldn't be enough to make a difference in the conference standings.

So far, it's been established that Bibby is an upgrade over Arroyo but could be a downgrade from Chalmers if he can't help the Heat limit the production of opposing point guards. It looks as if signing Bibby could be an over-reaction to a bad game. A look at the bigger picture (or this spreadsheet), shows that Heat point guards have only been outplayed in 26 of 60 games this season.

If Bibby doesn't provide a clear advantage over Chalmers in terms of overall production, then perhaps Riley signed Bibby because he has specialized talents the Heat need. The conventional wisdom says that Bibby will bring two much needed skill sets to the Heat - 1) take the pressure of handling the ball off Wade and LeBron and 2) his playoff experience and big shots will help in crunch time.

It seems highly unlikely that Bibby will take the ball out of LeBron and Wade's hands. In Atlanta, Bibby used 14.9 percent of the Hawks possessions, according to Joe Johnson used 26.7 percent, Josh Smith used 24.4 percent and Jamal Crawford used 24.1 percent of the team's possessions.

In Miami, Chalmers uses 14.8 percent of the Heat possessions. LeBron uses 31.9 percent of the possessions, Wade uses 31.7 percent and Bosh uses 23.5 percent. If Bibby couldn't use a higher percentage of possessions with players that don't dominate the ball as much as LeBron and Wade, then how will he use more possessions when there are even less available?

As for hitting big shots, Bibby is shooting 71.4 percent in the clutch this season while Chalmers is only shooting 50 percent (according to, where clutch is defined as 4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points).

So there you have it. After watching Billups hit a big three-pointer for the Knicks, Riley decided to sign Bibby because he's made a high percentage of the 10 shots he's taken in the clutch this season.

The irony of it all is that Arroyo was waived after the Heat had a bad game against the Knicks. Arroyo has been the least productive player on the Heat since their first game against the Knicks on Dec. 17th when he dominated Raymond Felton by producing more estimated wins than Billups did on Sunday.

One last note on Bibby - a lot has been made about the money Bibby walked away from in Washington to join the Heat. I think it's garbage. The National Basketball Players Association has stated they believe there will be a lockout next season. In the event of a lockout, the players don't get paid. Getting bought out of a contract that wasn't going to pay it's full value anyway is just smart business - not a sacrifice to win a championship. Don't believe me - check out TNT's David Aldridge.

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 and

Opponent stats for the Atlanta Hawks were taken from


  1. I appreciate the detailed review as far as it went but I am not sure about about the theory that one game was what tipped Riley into his decision.

    One other thing out there: playoff performance.

    Arroyo's career playoff performance on Win Shares per 48 minutes- .045, doiown from .092 in regular season.

    Bibby's- .084, down from .105 regular season.

    Not much difference between the two in regular season but historically a huge difference in the playoffs with Bibby almost twice as productive on WinShares (picked as a semi-neutral choice of tool).

    Might Riley have considered that or some version of playoff performance in his decision? I'd guess yes. I would.

  2. The problem with the argument that Bibby was brought in to replace Arroyo is that he wasn't even in the rotation anymore. A 2nd string PG isn't going to make a difference in the playoffs when the rotation gets shortened. For example, when Spoelstra shortened the rotation to 8 players in CHI, he only played 1 PG. So why bring Bibby in to ride the bench? I'd rather have the puerto rican PG on the team to connect to the fan base than a 2nd string PG that won't get many minutes.