Friday, August 12, 2011

HEAT Check: Miami Has a King, They Don’t Need a Prince

LeBron James’ production on both sides of the ball makes Tayshaun Prince a free agent the Miami HEAT don’t need.

The PistonPowered blog posted a report from the Miami Herald that the HEAT prefer to sign a free agent small forward with Prince heading a short list that also included Shane Battier, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady and Michael Redd. Do the HEAT need a small forward in free agency when they have holes on the roster at point guard and center?

This article will use Win Score, a statistical model 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 wins. More information on these stats can be found at the following links:

Simple Models of Player Performance
Wins Produced vs. Win Score

In 2011, the small forward position produced 23 points on 18 shots, 7.4 rebounds and five assists for an average Win Score of 9.6 in a regular season HEAT game. LeBron played 65 percent of the available minutes at small forward for the HEAT. His production of 32.8 points on 22.6 shots, nine rebounds and 8.8 assists per 48 minutes for an average Win Score per 48 minutes (WS48) of 15.4 inflated the average numbers at small forward in a HEAT game.

Prince produced a 7.1 WS48 from 20.6 points on 18.8 shots, 6.2 rebounds and four assists per 48 minutes last season. As this spreadsheet illustrates, his production on the HEAT would be below average in every category of the box score except shot attempts, turnovers, blocks and fouls.

Of course, some people will say Prince brings value on the defensive end. According to, Prince played 57 percent of the available minutes at small forward for the Detroit Pistons and they held opposing small forwards to a 7.6 WS48. The average HEAT opponent only produced a 6.0 WS48 at small forward. As this spreadsheet shows, the Pistons wing defense was worse than the HEAT at stopping opponents’ shooting efficiency, rebounding and passing with Prince playing the majority of the minutes.

The final problem with the HEAT signing Prince is that Mike Miller was a more productive player with an 8.9 WS48 (despite the fact he played without opposable thumbs) and James Jones was just as productive with a 7.1 WS48. This spreadsheet shows that Prince shot, rebounded, and stole the ball worse than Miller and was a much worse shooter than Jones (by 11 percentage points).

If Prince signed with the HEAT, then he would be slotted behind Miller in the rotation and wouldn’t provide any more production than Jones while coming with a higher price tag (since he’s a better scorer) but less three-point shooting. In the end, it just doesn’t make sense for the HEAT to sign Prince over one of Miami’s own.

As for the other free agent candidates, Battier is the only player likely to provide above average production since he posted a 9.7 WS48 last season. The problem with Battier is that he only made 38 percent of his three-pointers while Jones shot 43 percent beyond the arc and is two years younger. Hill was more productive than Jones but less productive than Miller and probably isn’t worth signing over Jones since he’s 38 years old. McGrady is the worst shooter of all the reported free agent candidates at small forward, less productive than Miller and two years older than Jones with knees cut on too many times by too many surgeons.

The HEAT don’t need fresh blood on the wing to win the title next season. They already have royal blood on the wing. They just need a healthy Miller and a new contract for Jones. Save the fresh blood for new bodies at point guard and center.


  1. Depth is good, if Shane Battier will come for the vet. min. I say do it, if he comes but for part or all of the MLE, NO THANKS! He is not a priority but he would be a nice luxury.

  2. @dmac943:

    I can't argue with the vet minimum. As a duke-hater, though, I'd rather not have him around period.

  3. I agree Battier is getting overrated by most, but you are putting a lot of faith in Miller considering he had another surgery. It's not the surgery that worries me, but the acclimation to NBA basketball if he's still on the Heat by January/February in a shortened season

  4. @kazam92:

    I didn't expect Miller to perform any better than he did last season after his offseason surgeries - and that was before the sports hernia. I do expect Miller to rebound just as well, despite the injuries, and that's his big advantage over Battier.

    It took James Jones two years to get his shot right after his surgeries, so I expect no less for a shooter like Miller that also likes to bang his body around.

    Hopefully, Miller will bounce back in 2013.