Thursday, March 1, 2012
LeBron James played his most minutes at power forward this season against the Toronto Raptors on February 5th and he finished the game with 30 points and nine rebounds. The HEAT may need even better production than that to maintain their winning streak while Chris Bosh misses the next two games to deal with the death of his grandmother.
The loss of Chris Bosh takes the Miami HEAT from a 60-win team to a 50-win team because it impacts the rotation at three positions: small forward, power forward and center.
This article uses the Est. Wins Produced stat created by sports economist David Berri. See the HEAT Produced Page for more information.
The spreadsheet below lists all of the players that were subbed in at power forward this season. LeBron ranks third on the HEAT in minutes played at the position.
On a per-minute basis, the most productive player on the HEAT at power forward has been Joel Anthony and LeBron ranks second. Without Bosh to back him up at center, though, The Warden will likely play more minutes in the middle and LeBron will pickup the 18 minutes/game usually given to Bosh.
The spreadsheet below lists LeBron's production at small forward and power forward. LeBron's a much less productive player at power forward, but the shifts in his game are interesting. He shoots a lower percentage from the floor but gets to the free throw line more. He averages less points but more rebounds, less steals but more blocks.
It makes sense for Erik Spoelstra, the Coach of the Month Award winner for February, to give Bosh's minutes at power forward to LeBron, and then give 18 minutes of LeBron's time at small forward to Mike Miller or James Jones instead of Shaved Monkey Nuts aka Shane Battier.
The least productive HEAT player at the position, Dexter Pittman will probably see extra playing time at center while Bosh is out. If Spo can find a way to avoid that or Pittman can find a way to play better, then the HEAT's chances of winning increase.
As bad as Pittman's been this season, the dropoff from replacing Bosh with Big Pitt in the rotation (-1.7 est. wins) is less than the dropoff from LeBron to his backups (-2.3 to -2.7 est. wins) because the King's been so dominant this season.*
The spreadsheet below lists the production of HEAT players at small forward and center this season.
* The dropoff in production based on rotation changes at center assumed LeBron played all of Bosh's minutes at power forward while Miller and Battier or Miller and Jones played LeBron's minutes at small forward. The assumption at center was that Anthony, Haslem and Pittman equally split Bosh's minutes at center.