Miami Heat: Assessing the Odds of Each Player Remaining Healthy the Full Season
If the Miami Heat want to repeat as NBA Finals champions, the first step is remaining healthy.
Miami needs everyone to be ready to contribute—you can’t help if you’re on the sideline nursing an injury.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are obviously the key cogs that must retain health throughout the season, but even scrubs like Dexter Pittman need to be ready in case of emergency foul trouble.
Here are the chances each player stays out of health trouble.
(All stats credit to www.basketball-reference.com)
LeBron James: 90 Percent
Considering the physicality with which he plays and the number of minutes he logs, it’s remarkable how injury-free LeBron James has been throughout his nine-year career.
He’s never endured a major injury, and the most time he’s missed in a season was back in 2008, when he missed seven of Cleveland’s 82 games.
James has also never missed a playoff game, playing in all 115 possible matches.
The only thing that concerns me is the cumulative toll the past year will have on him. After going through a condensed 66-game schedule, James played 42.7 minutes per game in the playoffs. It caught up to him in Game 4 of the Finals when he went down with leg cramps.
Participating in the Olympics also took away a full offseason to rest up.
James has recently participated in several “Hell Week” training sessions with Kevin Durant to get in shape for the upcoming season. We’ll see if that prepares him to stay healthy for a full year.
Dwyane Wade: 60 Percent
Dwyane Wade has never had luck with the injury bug.
He’s never played a full season, and he’s missed at least 26 percent of his games four times.
Having said that, he’s also never missed more than 31 games in a season. He should be healthy for the majority of the season, but don’t count on him suiting up for every game, either.
His knee problems during the playoffs were discouraging, but skipping out on the Olympics allowed him to make a full recovery.
Chris Bosh: 80 Percent
Chris Bosh has been steady with his health throughout his career. Besides last year’s 66-game schedule and 2005 when he played in 81 games, Bosh has played somewhere between 67 and 77 games each season.
That’s not great health, but it’s not bad either.
Like Wade, Bosh declined a spot on the Olympic roster this summer to recover from an injury—a lower abdominal strain in his case. That should be plenty of time for a full recovery, considering he was able to play in the Heat’s final eight playoff games.
Ray Allen: 70 Percent
Normally, Ray Allen is one of the most durable players in the NBA. He never missed a game in his first five seasons. In his first fifteen seasons, he had only missed more than six games four times.
But last year, Allen missed 20 games due to various injuries, the biggest of which were the bone spurs that forced him to sit the final nine regular season games and the first two postseason matches.
Allen is 37 now, so his body won’t help him prevent injuries anymore. But his limited role off the bench will.
Only time will tell which new aspect will overcome the other.
Shane Battier: 85 Percent
Shane Battier has only missed more than four games twice in his eleven-year career, and he’s logged two perfect 82-game seasons.
His age could start to take a little toll on his body, now that he recently turned 34.
Battier is such a hard worker, however, that age toll should be minimal.
He also only played 23.1 minutes per game last year. Those minutes might increase some, since he played 33.4 minutes in the playoffs.
This years’ minutes should fall somewhere in between those two numbers. Either way, Battier won’t play a substantial amount, helping him prevent injuries.
Mario Chalmers: 95 Percent
Unlike most players on the Miami Heat roster, Chalmers is still relatively young.
He’s never endured a major injury, and the most minutes he’s ever averaged over a season is 32.0, back in his rookie campaign.
The only concern I would have about Chalmers’ health would start with his brain. He’s known for having a confidence that doesn’t quite match his skill set. If he gets too carried away, he might do something foolish and end up breaking his own ankles instead of the defender’s.
Udonis Haslem: 60 Percent
Not too long ago, in the 2011 season, Udonis Haslem tore a ligament in his foot and missed the final 69 games of the regular season. He also missed the first nine games of the 2011 postseason.
It seemed like that was going to be a huge concern going forward, but Haslem bounced back strong.
He managed to average 28.3 minutes per game over the final 10 playoff games in 2011 and played in all but two games in the 2012 season.
Still, with his age and the magnitude of that 2011 injury, I’m a little skeptical he can turn in a fully healthy year.
Mike Miller: 10 Percent
This just isn’t going to happen. Mike Miller has missed 96 total games over the past three years, and one of those wasn’t even a full 82-game season.
When he has played since joining the Heat, he’s never been at 100 percent.
The injury to his thumbs in 2011 caused him to shoot 36.4 percent from long range, an extremely low mark for the sharp shooter.
Then in 2012, Miller constantly winced in pain up and down the court and bent over to relieve his aches anytime he got a chance.
I feel for the guy because he tries so hard. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe if Miller just takes it easy this next season and paces himself, he’ll be able to stay on the court longer and contribute more effectively.
But until he proves he can stay healthy, I won't be convinced of anything.
Joel Anthony: 95 Percent
Joel Anthony missed a fair share of games in his first two seasons, 2008 and 2009, but that wasn’t because of injury. He was still extremely raw and wasn’t ready yet to play with the big boys of the NBA.
Since his third season, Anthony has only missed 11 total games, but that was more of a result of Erik Spoelstra constantly messing around with his lineups and rotations.
Given his injury record and his 20.2 minutes per game average over the past two years, I would say there’s an optimistic chance that Anthony won't get hurt this year.
Norris Cole: 95 Percent
Like Chalmers, Norris Cole has the rare advantage on this team of still enjoying a young age.
He only missed one game last season, but again, this was because of Spoelstra and his never-ending game of figure-out-the-rotation.
Cole never missed a game in college, playing in all 140 games at Cleveland state from 2007 to 2011.
And like Anthony, Cole’s low minute count of 19.4 from a year ago should help keep him out of harm’s way.
Rashard Lewis: 60 Percent
After staying consistently healthy for most of his career, Rashard Lewis has gotten bit by the injury bug hard the past couple seasons. He missed 25 games in the 2011 season and 38 last year.
Lewis also just turned 33, and age will not be on his side heading into this season.
Still, Lewis will benefit from how Miami will use him. In the limited amount of minutes he sees, he will probably just be standing in the corner waiting to shoot wide-open threes.
It’ll be a little different story on the defensive side of the ball, however, where he’ll likely have to get physical down low against opposing power forwards.
Overall, the rest he gets on offense and limited minutes should keep Lewis relatively healthy.
James Jones: 90 Percent
James Jones is yet another victim of Spoelstra’s ever-changing rotations. Although he appeared in 81 games in 2011, he missed 15 last year due to lineup changes.
Overall, though, he’s never really had any major injury problems. Jones benefits from having to shoot three-pointers and do nothing else, much like Lewis will do this year.
His age is getting up there (he turns 32 in October), but he’s another beneficiary of little playing time.
Don’t expect to see Jones get hurt.
Dexter Pittman: 90 Percent
The word “health” can imply different things. It’s important to point out that for the purposes of this article, I mean avoiding injury, not being in shape.
If I was talking about the latter, Dexter Pittman’s number would be much lower, as he consistently has had trouble with endurance.
But, this is about the former, and that’s why Pittman’s percentage is so high.
Considering he’s almost never going to play, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which he gets injured.
Unless he suffers a heart attack in practice, that is.
Josh Harrellson: 70 Percent
During his rookie season of 2012, Josh Harrellson sustained a wrist injury that kept him out of action for 21 games.
This injury is significant enough to raise some questions about his health.
But Harrellson also played in all 38 games in his senior season at Kentucky, so that is encouraging.
He might see some playing time as a shooting big man to help spread the floor for James and Wade to slash, but he won’t see the floor often by any stretch. That should keep him fairly healthy for the year.
Everyone Else: 50 Percent
This group includes Jarvis Varnado, Mickell Gladness, Terrel Harris, Garrett Temple and Justin Hamilton.
I included all of them in the same group and put them at 50 percent because there’s just no way to tell what their status will be for the upcoming season.
Varnado and Hamilton have never played in an NBA game, and Gladness, Harris and Temple have combined for 99 games and 12 starts in their respective careers.
Temple spent last year playing in Italy and only played in 24 games in 2011 as he bounced around to three different teams.
Gladness was cut by the Heat in February last year before signing with the Warriors for the remainder of the season. He wasn’t brought back until a couple weeks ago when Miami signed him as a free agent.
Harris graduated from Oklahoma State in 2009 and spent his time in the D-League and Europe until the Heat signed him in December 2011. The only playing time he saw was in garbage time.
Bottom line, none of these guys have enough NBA experience to place a firm percentage on their chances of health. Most likely, none of them will even make the final 15-man roster. At that point, the chances of them staying healthy are irrelevant.