Grading Chris "Birdman" Andersen's Initial Performance for the Miami Heat

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Grading Chris
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In need of some more size inside, the Miami Heat signed Chris "Birdman" Andersen in January. 

With Birdman now having made 10 appearances in a Heat uniform, we have enough evidence to determine if it was the right move.

Let's evaluate Birdman's play with Miami and ultimately assign him a grade for his play so far.

While Andersen brings more to the table than just rebounding, the primary reason Miami brought him aboard was for his ability on the glass.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

For his career, Andersen rebounds the ball 10.5 times per 36 minutes, so the hope was that he could alleviate the pain in an area in which the Heat have struggled in all season (30th in the league in team rebounds).

Well, Andersen has definitely done his part.  Andersen is grabbing 3.5 boards in the 10.8 minutes per contest he's playing, which equates to a stellar 11.7 rebounds per 36 minutes.

In this respect, Birdman is exceeding expectations.  Check out the chart below, which shows that Birdman has never rebounded the ball better than he has this season.

Made with ChartGo

Where Andersen is doing a good chunk of his damage is on the offensive glass. He doesn't qualify on the stat's leaderboard, obviously, due to lack of minutes, but if he did, his 17.8 offensive rebounding rate would rank second in the league.

It's really remarkable that Birdman is having this much success on the glass so early in his Heat career after coming to the team having not played in an NBA game since March of last year.

Birdman's success has stretched farther than rebounding, though.

Just like he does when crashing the glass, Birdman gives maximum effort on the defensive end. When a shot goes up in his vicinity, Andersen makes a strong attempt to send it away.

He's impressively swatting away two balls per 36 minutes, which only ranks below Joel Anthony on Miami. 

While the Heat weren't a poor shot-blocking team prior to Andersen's arrival (they rank 16th now), adding Andersen in the fold has made them a more dangerous team in that respect.

Miami has a shot-blocking rate of eight percent when he's on the court and six percent when he's off it, according to 82games.

Andersen hasn't been a dominant defender, but he's blocked shots and has been overall positive on the Heat's defense thanks to his great energy.

The only area in which Andersen has clearly hurt the Heat is on the offensive side of the ball.

Andersen is very limited offensively, and Miami is not able to space the floor as well when he's on the court. This has clearly hindered Miami's offensive production.

This chart with statistics courtesy of 82games shows how well the Heat score when Andersen is on the court compared to when he's not, per 100 possessions.

Made with ChartGo

The drop-off in production is incredibly drastic, but some of it can be attributed to the simple fact that when Andersen enters a game Chris Bosh almost always leaves it. Obviously removing an offensive talent like Bosh from the game, who is a huge asset in terms of floor-spacing, is going to decrease offensive output regardless of who's replacing him.

Verdict:

While the Heat's offensive struggles when Birdman is on the court are cause for some concern, it's not as if Miami thought it was signing an offensive juggernaut in Andersen. When we grade Birdman's performance in Miami, we should do it on the basis of what the Heat wanted out of Andersen when they signed him.

First and foremost, the Heat wanted help rebounding. They've gotten even more than they likely expected. They also wanted him to be a defensive and shot-blocking asset. He's been that.

The rebounding is key, though. Miami needed to address their rebounding issues, and Andersen has been nothing less than a monster on the glass.

Final Grade:

A-

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