The three most productive players in the Eastern Conference last season were LeBron James, Dwight Howard, and Dwyane “Flash” Wade. James and Howard met in the Eastern Conference Finals, and there is a chance that will happen again in 2010 (although Boston might have more to say about that this year). The Miami Heat and Wade, though, were bounced in the first round in 2009. When we look at the team’s Wins Produced, we can see why the Heat struggled.
From Table One we see that Wade produced 22.2 wins last season. The other 17 players employed by the Heat in 2008-09 produced 19.9 wins. In contrast, LeBron’s teammates produced 36.8 wins while the Orlando Magic received 36.3 wins from all players not named Howard.
Once upon a time, what we observed for James and Howard was also observed in Miami. Here is the productivity of Wade and his teammates since he entered the league in 2003.
2003-04: Wade (5.7 Wins Produced), Teammates (36.6 Wins Produced)
2004-05: Wade (12.7 Wins Produced, Teammates (45.8 Wins Produced)
2005-06: Wade (17.8 Wins Produced), Teammates (33.3 Wins Produced)
2006-07: Wade (11.7 Wins Produced), Teammates (26.9 Wins Produced)
2007-08: Wade (5.5 Wins Produced), Teammates (12.6 Wins Produced)
2008-09: Wade (22.2 Wins Produced), Teammates (19.9 Wins Produced)
Totals: Wade (75.7 Wins Produced), Teammates (175.1 Wins Produced)
Early in Wade’s career his teammates were quite productive. Across the past three seasons – or since the team took the title in 2006 – Flash’s teammates have been below average.
And when we look at next season, it doesn’t appear this story is going to change. Here is the projected first and second string in Miami (Wins Produced and WP48 – Wins Produced per 48 minutes – reported for 2008-09):
PG: Mario Chalmers [5.5 Wins Produced, 0.101 WP48]
SG: Dwyane Wade [22.2 Wins Produced, 0.350 WP48]
SF: James Jones [-1.6 Wins Produced, -0.037 WP48; 0.047 WP48 for career]
PF: Udonis Haslem [5.0 Wins Produced, 0.093 WP48]
C: Jermaine O’Neal [-1.6 Wins Produced, -0.037 WP48 for entire season]
PG: Chris Quinn [1.2 Wins Produced, 0.060 WP48]
SG: Daequan Cook [0.4 Wins Produced, 0.009 WP48]
SF: Yakhouba Diawara [-1.5 Wins Produced, -0.083 WP48]
PF: Michael Beasley [2.1 Wins Produced, 0.049 WP48]
C: Jamaal Magloire [0.8 Wins Produced, 0.052 WP48]
In addition to these ten players, the Heat also have…
SG-SF: Quentin Richardson [3.9 Wins Produced, 0.098 WP48]
SF: Dorell Wright [2.9 Wins Produced, 0.128 WP48 in 2007-08]
PF-C: Joel Anthony [-1.1 Wins Produced, -0.050 WP48]
After Wade, Miami currently has only one player – Mario Chalmers – who was above average last year. And Chalmers 0.101 WP48 is essentially average [average WP48 is 0.100].
Last year it was a slightly different story. In 2008-09, the Heat employed Shawn Marion, who was traded for Jamario Moon. Both Marion and Moon were above average, and now both are gone. Consequently, Miami looks to be worse.
Fans of the Heat might be tempted to tell a different story. Beasley, Chalmers, and Cook are all young players; and young players can get better. Although this is true, Miami’s competition in the East seems to have an easier path to the playoffs. The Cavaliers, Celtics, Magic, Hawks, Wizards, Bucks, Bulls, and Bobcats can all win more than 40 games next year with players simply producing at levels we have observed in the past. For the Heat to win 40 games, someone is going to have to surpass their past performance level.
As a consequence, I think Miami is one playoff team (not the only one, though) from 2009 that will struggle to appear in the post-season in 2010. Yes, Flash and Miami can make it to the post-season. But the road for Miami seems relatively more difficult.
And that means Wade might seriously consider finding a new home in 2010.
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Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.
Wins Produced, Win Score, and PAWSmin are also discussed in the following posts:
Finally, A Guide to Evaluating Models contains useful hints on how to interpret and evaluate statistical models.