Dexter Pittman was the 32nd pick of last year’s NBA draft because the Miami Heat needed help at the center position since Jermaine O’Neal was a free agent. What position does the team need to address with the 31st pick in tonight’s NBA draft?
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 NBA player produces an estimated 0.100 wins per 48 minutes (Est.WP48), a star player produces +0.200 Est.WP48 and a superstar produces +0.300 Est.WP48. Position-Adjusted Win Score per 40 minutes will be used to evaluate college players. An above average college player produces a PAWS40 of 10.0. 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 more things change, the more they stay the same. One year later, the Heat still need to address production at the center position. The Heat got above average production (Est.WP48 > 0.100) from every other position in 2011 (see the Heat Produced Page).
- C: 0.088 Est.WP48
- PF: 0.116 Est.WP48
- SF: 0.219 Est.WP48
- SG: 0.183 Est.WP48
- PG: 0.112 Est.WP48
According to HoopsHype.com, the Heat have three centers under contract for next season — Zydrunas Ilgauskas (who exercised his player option), Joel Anthony and Dexter Pittman. Chris Bosh also played over 350 minutes at center last season. This spreadsheet lists the production of those players’ at center in 2011.
The Heat got below average production at center in every category except shooting efficiency, turnovers and blocked shots in 2011. Bosh only played 10 percent of the available minutes at center in 2011 but was the most productive player at the position with an estimated 0.203 wins produced per 48 minutes (WP48). That's twice as productive as the average center. Bosh was above average at center in every category except shooting efficiency from the floor (he was above average from the line), rebounding and shot-blocking.
The question is, “Will Coach Erik Spoelstra play Bosh extended minutes at center next season?” Playing Bosh at center wasn’t a viable option during this season because Udonis Haslem missed 69 games and there was no productive player to fill the void at power forward without sacrificing a lot of size.
The Heat’s Director of Player Personnel, Chet Kammerer, said the team’s needs were length inside and point guard, according to the HeatZone blog run by Ethan J. Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post. Skolnick reported that Kammerer also said 15 of the 42 players the Heat evaluated in workouts were point guards.
If the plan is to play Bosh at center more, then a point guard would be a good choice since that position had the second-lowest production in 2011 at 0.112 est.WP48. The only players on the roster under contract for next season that played more than 100 minutes at point guard in 2011 were Dwyane Wade (292 est. minutes at PG) and LeBron James (163 est. minutes at PG). Mario Chalmers is a restricted free agent, Mike Bibby is an unrestricted free agent and Eddie House has a player option (according to HoopsHype.com). This spreadsheet lists the production of those players at point guard in 2011.
The Heat got above average production at point guard in every category except shooting volume, free throw shooting, scoring, assists and fouls. Chalmers played the most minutes at point guard and as a result was the most productive player at the position with an estimated 3.1 wins produced. Chalmers was above average in shooting efficiency, steals, turnovers and shot-blocking.
On a per-minute basis, Wade was the most productive player at point guard with 0.310 est.WP48 (three times as productive as the average player). He was above average in every category except free throw shooting, turnovers, assists and fouls. In my opinion, Wade only played seven percent of the available minutes at point guard during the season because Mike Miller’s injuries limited Spoelstra’s flexibility to play him there.
Just like a healthy Haslem could potentially improve the Heat’s production at center by allowing Bosh to play the position more, a healthy Miller could potentially improve the team’s production at point guard by allowing Wade to play the position more. This phenomenon is also known as the Gator Effect.
The Gator Effect means the Heat are not really looking for a rotation player in the draft, but just insurance at center or point guard in case injuries continue to be a problem, Chalmers isn’t re-signed or Pittman isn’t ready to play more than 500 minutes.
Who are the best insurance options for the Heat at center and point guard in the 2011 draft? Below is a list of the college players with an above average Position-Adjusted Win Score per 40 minutes (PAWS40 > 10.2) at center, power forward and point guard from DraftExpress.com’s list of eligiple prospects.
Player, College, PAWS40, DX projection
- Kenneth Faried (PF), Morehead State: 17.4 PAWS40, projected 10-25
- Kyrie Irving (PG), Duke: 15.1 PAWS40, projected 1-2
- Markieff Morris (PF), Kansas: 13.8 PAWS40, projected 10-20
- Julyan Stone (PG), UTEP: 13.3 PAWS40, projected to be undrafted
- Keith Benson (PF/C), Oakland: 12.8 PAWS40, projected 25-45
- Norris Cole (PG), Cleveland State: 12.8 PAWS40, projected 31-undrafted
- Derrick Williams (PF), Arizona: 12.7 PAWS40, projected 1-2
- Charles Jenkins (PG), Hofstra: 12.7 PAWS40, projected 25-45
- Jordan Williams (PF/C), Maryland: 12.5 PAWS40, projected 25-50
- Reggie Jackson (PG), Boston College: 12.2 PAWS40, projected 18-40
- Josh Harrellson (PF/C), Kentucky: 12.0 PAWS40, projected 40-undrafted
- Rick Jackson (PF/C), Syracuse: 11.9 PAWS40, projected 50-undrafted
- Iman Shumpert (PG), Georgia Tech: 11.8 PAWS40, projected 20-45
- Kemba Walker (PG), Connecticut: 11.7 PAWS40, projected 3-10
- Brad Wanamaker (PG), Pittsburgh: 11.7 PAWS40, projected 40-undrafted
- Marcus Morris (PF), Kansas: 11.6 PAWS40, projected 8-20
- Gary McGhee (PF/C), Pittsburgh: 11.0 PAWS40, projected 50-undrafted
- Jimmer Fredette (PG), BYU: 10.8 PAWS40, projected 10-25
- Jerai Grant (PF/C), Clemson: 10.7 PAWS40, projected 50-undrafted
- Nikola Vucevic (PF/C), USC: 10.7 PAWS40, projected 20-45
- Justin Harper (PF), Richmond: 10.2 PAWS40, projected 18-35
- Nolan Smith (PG), Duke: 10.2 PAWS40, projected 18-35
Fifteen of the 22 above average big men and point guards listed are projected by DraftExpress to be available within range of the Heat’s 31st pick. The most productive player projected to be available is Julyan Stone, a 6’7” PG from UTEP. I don’t know anything about him, but HoopsWorld.com had an interesting story about him last year. Of course, since Stone is projected to go undrafted, using the 31st pick on him could be considered overkill if he were likely to accept an invitation to training camp. The most productive players with the most length, that could potentially be available for the 31st pick, are Benson and Vucevic.
The Sun-Sentinel reported the names of six players that were brought in for draft workouts by the Heat, but only two of them, Nolan Smith and Chandler Parsons, produced an above average PAWS40 in college this season. Below is a list of those players reportedly brought in for workouts with the Heat:
Player, College, PAWS40, Rank in DX Top 100
- Chandler Parsons (SF), Florida: 10.3 PAWS40, projected 40-undrafted
- JaJuan Johnson (PF), Purdue: 9.9 PAWS40, projected 25-40
- Isaiah Thomas (PG), Washington: 9.8 PAWS40, projected 25-undrafted
- Kyle Singler (SF), Duke: 7.7 PAWS40, projected 20-40
- Malcolm Lee (SG), UCLA: 5.5 PAWS40, projected 25-50
- Josh Selby (SG), Kansas: 3.8 PAWS40, projected 18-40
Hopefully, the Heat don’t push their luck and pick another Jayhawk to join Chalmers on the team. Chalmers came into the draft with a 15.6 PAWS40 in 2008 while Selby was terribly unproductive this season. As long as Lee and Singler are also avoided, the Heat will probably have made a low-risk attempt at an insurance policy for the next season, but PAWS40 is not a completely fool-proof method for projecting the performance of college players in the NBA.
Disagree with the numbers? Who do you think the Heat should select in the draft tonight? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.