Monday, July 9, 2012

HEAT Check: How Much Does Ray Allen Impact the HEAT's Bench Ranking?

While the Miami HEAT continue to search for free agents to strengthen their bench, let's analyze how productive the reserves were last season and how much the addition of Ray Allen can improve it.

This article uses Wins Produced, a statistic created by sports economist David Berri. Since an average team's winning percentage is 0.500, an average player produces 0.100 wins per 48 minutes (WP48). A star player produces 0.200 WP48 and great players produce 0.300 WP48. See the HEAT Produced Page for more information on Wins Produced.

The HEAT reserves ranked 18th this season with a winning percentage of 0.336 (that's wins produced per 240 minutes). Udonis Haslem ranked 13th among 6th Men in the NBA with 4 wins produced. The spreadsheet below lists the rankings of the reserves for all NBA teams this season.

Last season, the HEAT reserves finished the season ranked 14th in the NBA with a 0.295 winning percentage after being ranked in the top 5 for the first two-and-a-half months.

Improved Production = Lower Ranking?
If the HEAT bench was supposed to be better this season with a healthy UD and the addition of Shaved Monkey Nuts, then how did they end up dropping 4 spots in the bench rankings?

Well, the HEAT reserves were more productive this season, but so were the rest of the NBA's reserves. In 2011, four teams had reserves that produced zero wins or less: Wizards, Celtics, Cavaliers and Timberwolves. In 2012, even the Bobcats' reserves managed to produce at least 1 win.

Everybody Loves Ray?
It seems to be a consensus among HEAT fans and analysts that the addition of free agent Ray Allen will greatly improve the HEAT. How does the addition of Allen affect the reserves?

Ray Allen produced 0.187 WP48 in 2012. If the HEAT had him last season and he played all of James Jones and Mike Miller minutes, then the HEAT reserves would have produced 1 extra win. The reserves' winning percentage would've increased from being 0.336 to 0.376. That increase is only enough to move them up 2 spots in the rankings from 18th to 16th, ahead of the Knicks.

If the HEAT had Jones in the rotation with Allen last season and gave him Terrel Harris, Eddy Curry and Mickell Gladness minutes, then the HEAT reserves would've produced 3 extra wins instead of just 1. The reserves' winning percentage would've increased to 0.436 and been ranked 9th, just ahead of the Pacers but still behind the Bulls, Spurs, Thunder and 76ers.

Of course, Allen played the majority of the 2012 season without recovering from ankle surgery and that won't be the case next season.

Is it worth it for the HEAT to sacrifice developing younger talent with Allen's roster spot just to have a top 10 bench that still isn't really better than teams they would've met in the Eastern Conference Semifinals or NBA Finals?

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