Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mario Chalmers: Ghost of Point Guard Past, Present and Future

Mario Chalmers is the past, present and future solution for the Miami HEAT at point guard.

The following headline was posted at the Sun-Sentinel blog by a member of the Heat Shit List, “Who’s more deserving to start: Mario Chalmers or Joel Anthony?” It’s a ridiculous question, but the Sun-Sentinel reporter is a notorious Chalmers-hater (that’s what got him on the Heat Shit List in the first place).

No matter how far the HEAT organization, beat writers and fans try to run from the idea of Chalmers as the starting point guard, he keeps coming back to haunt them with evidence of why he’s the best player on the roster for the job.

This article will use the Wins Produced statistical model developed by sports economist David Berri. See the following links for more information:
Chalmers stepped onto the floor as a rookie in 2009 and ended the season as the most productive point guard on the roster and the second-most productive player on the HEAT with an estimated 7.4 wins produced thanks to a 2.5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio and 1.8 steals per game. As this spreadsheet illustrates, only Dwyane Wade produced more wins for the HEAT than Chalmers in 2009.

Ghost of Point Guard Present
Chalmers was slated to be the starting point guard when Riley assembled a roster around the Three Kings last summer, but a high ankle sprain put him on the shelf at the beginning of the season. When Carlos Arroyo’s performance started to fall off in January, Erik Spoelstra moved Chalmers into the starting lineup. He responded by scoring 10 points with 3-3 shooting from beyond the arc and dished nine assists to produce an above average 0.151 estimated wins per 48 minutes (est.WP48).

The HEAT won nine of their next 10 games after Spoelstra made Chalmers the starting point guard and went 19-9 with him as a starter in the regular season. As this spreadsheet illustrates, Chalmers was a key part of that success by providing better shooting at point guard as a starter than reserve.

By the end of the regular season, Chalmers was the most productive HEAT player after the Three Kings, despite only starting 28 games.

See the links below for more on the HEAT point guard saga during the 2011 regular season:

Ghost of Point Guard Future
There are two big reasons why Chalmers should be the starting point guard for the Miami Heat next season.

First, the HEAT backcourt of Wade and Chalmers dominated the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Finals. Chalmers was the second-most productive HEAT player in the NBA Finals.

Second, Chalmers was more cost-efficient than Chris Bosh last season. Since he was underpaid by approximately $4.7 million last season and the HEAT have his “Bird rights”, Pat Riley cannot realistically overpay Chalmers next season since he’s been so underpaid for his production to-date by his rookie contract. It would take a max contract or a catastrophic injury for Chalmers to be overpaid next season.

With the need for a point guard clearly established, it’s time for the HEAT to stop being scrooges and give the ghost of point guard past, present and future the money and playing time he’s earned after three years. Chalmers is not Michael Beasley. He will come back to haunt them if they don’t.

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