Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dwyane Wade & LeBron James: Did the King Murder Wade On His Own Shit?

Classic Nas quote from his Jay-Z diss record, "Ether"

Was LeBron James’ performance last season better than Dwyane Wade’s?

This article was inspired by a great post from HipHopSite.com: the Murdered-You-On-Your-Own-Shit Awards. The awards honored 20 guest artists that bodied the rappers that invited them on the track the same way Eminem murdered Jay-Z on “Renegades”, as Nas memorably pointed out on “Ether”.

I always thought the “whose team is it” debate on the Miami Heat was silly since it was obviously Wade’s team. He’s the franchise leader in wins produced, was the Finals MVP when the Heat won the title in 2006 and the shadow GM that brought a future dynasty to Miami and let Pat Riley take all the credit.


If the Heat were always Wade’s team and (to paraphrase a Jordan brand commercial) “he brought the King to the royal court” as shadow GM, then the question of whether LeBron’s performance was better than Wade’s on his own team this season becomes much more interesting and meaningful than the “whose team is it” debate.

Let’s take a look at the numbers...

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 efficiency differential and wins. An average 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. 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




Wade vs. LeBron: Regular Season
LeBron went into his first season with the Heat as back-to-back MVP and produced more wins than Wade in 2009 and 2010. As the Heat Produced Page shows, LeBron led the Heat in the regular season with 17.5 estimated wins produced. Wade finished second with an estimated 14.6 wins produced.

Drilling down into the regular season numbers reveals that LeBron played like a “star” and produced more than 0.200 est.WP48 52 times while Wade only did it 49 times. Wade, however, produced like a “great” player with more than 0.300 est.WP48 39 times while LeBron only did it 31 times. This spreadsheet lists the performances for all Three Kings that topped 0.200 est.WP48 in the regular season.



Wade vs. LeBron: Post-Season
Wade followed up his penchant for greatness in the regular season by leading the Heat in the playoffs with an estimated 4.0 wins produced from 29.9 points on 51% shooting, 8.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists. LeBron finished second with an estimated 3.7 wins produced from 25.9 points on 51% shooting, 9.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists.

LeBron was the most productive player in the Heat’s first round series against the Sixers with an estimated 1.2 wins produced from 27.5 points on 49.5% shooting, 11.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists per 48 minutes. Wade finished second with an estimated 1.0 wins produced from 28 points on 45% shooting, 10.6 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 2.5 blocks per 48 minutes.

Wade was the most productive player in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Celtics with an estimated 1.2 wins produced from 35.3 points on 55% shooting, 7.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists per 48 minutes. LeBron finished second with an estimated 0.9 wins produced from 30.2 points on 52% shooting, 8.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per 48 minutes.

LeBron was the most productive player in the Eastern Conference Finals by a thin margin over Chris Bosh. LeBron finished with an estimated 1.0 wins produced from 27.4 points on 49% shooting, 8.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.0 blocks per 48 minutes. Wade finished fourth on the Heat with an estimated 0.5 wins produced from 22.8 points on 41% shooting, 7.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals per 48 minutes.

LeBron received criticism for his performance in the Finals while Wade was celebrated until Brian Cardinal injured him in Game 5 and cost the Heat the series. By the numbers, Wade was the most productive player in the Finals with an estimated 1.4 wins produced from 32.6 points on 58% shooting, 8.6 rebounds and 6.4 assists. LeBron finished third on the Heat with an estimated 0.5 wins produced from 19.6 points on 53% shooting, 7.7 rebounds and 7.5 assists per 48 minutes.


Wade vs. LeBron: Conclusion
LeBron’s consistency during the regular season made him the more productive player, but Wade’s big games resulted in him being this blog’s official pick for MVP earlier this year during a podcast with Danny Martinez from Hot Hot Hoops. Combine that with his playoff performance and it’s hard to say LeBron murdered Wade on his own shit this season.

As stated in the comments of the LeBron vs. Dwight article, Wade and LeBron both played their roles this season. As back-to-back MVP and younger player, LeBron carried a heavy load last season playing every position on the floor and logging heavy minutes from October to June. Wade struggled with his health early and late, but was a monster when healthy.

At the end of the day, Wade and LeBron found a balance that worked for them and the Heat. Next season, they can focus on keeping Wade healthy enough to murder their competition in the Finals.

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