It doesn't make sense to trade LeBron James for Dwight Howard after the two-time MVP outplayed the three-time Defensive Player of the Year head-to-head last season.
This article will use Win Score and Estimated Wins Produced, statistical models created by sports economist David Berri from the Wages of Wins Journal, to measure how much a player's box score statistics contributed to their team's wins. An average player produces 0.100 estimated wins per 48 minutes (Est.WP48), a star player produces +0.200 Est.WP48 and a superstar produces +0.300 Est.WP48. 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 Sun-Sentinel ran a blog series called “Keep or Kick” for each player on the Heat roster and the last player reviewed was LeBron James. There’s really no argument for kicking LeBron to the curb:
- He was the most productive Heat player in the regular season with an estimated 17.5 wins produced from 54% shooting efficiency, 33.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.7 assists per 48 minutes.
- He was the second-most productive member of the Heat in the playoffs with an estimated 3.7 wins produced from 51% shooting efficiency, 25.9 points, 9.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists per 48 minutes.
You don’t kick that type of production to the curb for anyone, not even Dwight Howard. Especially since LeBron outplayed Dwight head-to-head last season. The King produced more estimated wins overall and per-minute than D12 in four games against the Magic last season. This spreadsheet shows LeBron posted better numbers in shooting efficiency and volume, scoring, assists and fouls.
Most of the talk about trading LeBron for Dwight is driven by three beliefs:
- LeBron choked in the Finals against the Mavericks,
- LeBron and Dwyane Wade have redundant skills and
- The Heat need a center.
Here are three response to those three misguided beliefs:
- LeBron's performance in the 2011 Finals was underwhelming, but Dwight's performance in the 2009 Finals was more disappointing than the performance of Rashard Lewis so trading the two doesn't necessarily solve the issue of superstars coming up short when a title is on the line. Disclaimer: I don't believe LeBron came up short. I believe the Mavs played like hockey goons.
- LeBron and Wade had a lot of good games together for two players with redundant skill sets.
- Do the Heat need a center? Well, the team did not have a hole in the middle when the season started. The keys to the Heat's production at center are Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh. A healthy UD makes it possible for head coach Erik Spoelstra to play Bosh in the middle where he was productive last season.