Miami Heat: Projecting Stats for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade & Chris Bosh
With the long awaited 2010 free agency period finally resolved and the key free agents inked to deals, it's time to start thinking of the regular season and how these acquisitions will work out.
As the world knows, the Miami Heat landed the mother load, with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh all deciding to team up together in Miami.
While this new trio has been the hottest talk around the league and the Heat is already being discussed as an early title favorite, there are still many unanswered questions.
One of the primary questions is who will be the leading scorer and how much will these three former No. 1 options numbers drop from previous years? With a two-time MVP, a former season scoring champion, and a big man that's used to shouldering the load, how will these guys adjust to their new roles?
Here is a projection of how the numbers for the "Miami Thrice" will pan out.
LeBron James—26.1 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 6.2 APG
As much as I believe and know that the Miami Heat will still be Dwyane Wade's team, I have to predict that LeBron will be the team's leading scorer.
Regardless of what team you put LBJ on and no matter who his teammates are, he has got to be the favorite to score the most points. This is a two-time MVP winner in his prime that has a career average of 27.8 points per game.
Adding Wade and Chris Bosh to the mix will put a dent in his stats, but I can't see more than a four-point decline from last year's 29.7 points per game.
As for his rebounding and passing numbers, there will also be a small drop from last year. LBJ was able to average 7.3 rebounds per game last season on a Cavalier team that had a clogged middle featuring Shaquille O'Neal and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, as well as lead the team with 8.6 assists with an All-Star point guard at his side.
With Bosh and Big Z on board, The King's rebounding numbers will take a slight dip. Although James has more targets to pass to this season, his dimes will drop because Wade will be playing point more often and will be racking up a lot of the assists.
Dwyane Wade—25.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 7.7 APG
Wade will undoubtedly be the Heat's second leading scorer, which is something he hasn't experienced since his rookie season.
The fact is that Wade is a team player who has no problem sacrificing his scoring numbers. A prime example is this most recent season, where he went from being the league's scoring champion at 30.2 PPG to in 2009 to 26.6 points.
This is not a result of the Heat being a better team this season; it was because Wade wanted to give his teammates more opportunities and relieve some of the scoring load off of his shoulders.
With LeBron on the roster to complement him, Wade will have no problem scoring less as he is throwing up alley-oops to his buddy.
You might think there should be more of a disparity in Wade and James scoring numbers, however, use the Boston Celtics as an example.
When Boston won the NBA title in 2008 after bringing in their own "Big Three," Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett's stats all declined from the previous season.
Since Pierce and Allen are the wing players that compare to James and Wade, I will use their stats as an example. Pierce went from 25 to 19.6 PPG, while Allen's scoring dropped from 26.4 to 17.4 points. As you can see, there was only a two point differential in Pierce and Allen's scoring.
Also, the two Celtics had a six and nine point dip in their scoring, respectively. While this is significantly higher than what I projected Wade and James drop to be, remember a few things: Wade and James are still fully in their primes and are considered more talented players than Pierce and Allen.
Boston's duo was on the tail-end of their primes when they arrived in Boston, so it is safe to say the All-Star duo of The King and Flash will still be putting up big numbers.
Either way, Wade's passing numbers should increase significantly with the addition of James and Bosh. This is a guy who averaged 6.5 assists per game with Michael Beasley and Jermaine O'Neal as the secondary scoring options. With two All-Stars now at his side, Wade will have no problems racking up the dimes.
Chris Bosh—18.4 PPG, 9.8 RPG
Chris Bosh...aka the "little" guy of this enormously talented Miami trio. Bosh has been slightly drowned by the all the attention that LeBron and Wade have garnered in the last couple of weeks.
While James and Wade were the two most coveted pieces in this year's free agency, Bosh is still an integral piece to the puzzle. He gives Miami a real inside presence that it has lacked since Shaq was dealt in 2007.
Being that Bosh is the third option in this star-studded lineup, his numbers will likely take the most noticeable hit. Remember, Bosh is coming from a Toronto team with little depth. Not only was he the go-to-guy, he was more like the only guy.
The former fourth overall pick averaged a career best of 24 points and 10.8 boards per game last season and the Raptors failed to make the playoffs. Now, with James and Wade being the primary scoring options, Bosh's scoring will suffer the most. I expect him to score around 18 points per contest, while still leading the team in rebounds at around 10 per game.
Being that CB4 is an excellent rebounder, I can't imagine those numbers declining by more than one board a game, even with Udonis Haslem and Big Z hitting the glass.
Kevin Garnett saw a similar drop in his first year with Boston when his numbers went from 22.4 points and 12.8 rebounds per game to 18.8 and 9.2.
In case you took the time to add up the numbers, you would find that Miami's new "Three Kings" will have a combined average of 69.7 points per game.
You might be saying that 70 points between three players is absolutely absurd until you take a closer look.
In Boston's championship season back in 2008, the newly put together Celtic trio averaged a combined 55.8 points per game, while the team averaged 100.6 points. That means Pierce, Allen, and Garnett accounted for 55 percent of the team's scoring.
In San Antonio's title year in 2007, the big three of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker posted a combined 55.1 points, while the team averaged 98.5 points per contest. That was good enough to account for 56 percent of the team's scoring.
My point is that 70 points per game between the South Beach super team is more than realistic, especially with each player being fully in his prime. The Heat has the potential to average West Coast-like scoring numbers and possibly be the league leaders in points per game.
If an older Spurs and Celtics trio can put up 55 points together, a superior young Miami trio can do even better.