Miami Heat Check: Three Kings Are Great but the Bench Is Second To None

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Miami Heat Check: Three Kings Are Great but the Bench Is Second To None
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
When the Three Kings have been out the game, the second-best bench in the league has been in it.

I got a great question and comment from Giovanni Valladares on my last article:

"How many wins does Miami's bench produce? With and without Haslem and Miller? And how do they rank compared to other NBA benches?

I just hate that Miami's bench gets no credit and is often underrated. They haven't been good as of late but with U.D. and Miller I gotta believe they would be one of the top benches."

Three great questions. It took longer than I expected to pull together the stats, but I finally pulled them together from the Heat Produced pageNerd Numbers and basketball-reference.com to get the answers for Giovanni.

NOTE: The numbers used in this article do not include stats from last night's game against the Golden State Warriors.

This article will use Win Score and Wins Produced, statistical models created by Professor David Berri from the Wages of Wins Journal, to measure how much a player's box score statistics contributed to their team's performance. An average player produces 0.100 wins per 48 minutes (WP48), a star player produces 0.200-plus WP48 and a superstar produces 0.300-plus WP48. More information on these stats can be found at the following links:

Simple Models of Player Performance
Wins Produced vs. Win Score
What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say
Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics


Marc Serota/Getty Images
The return of Mike Miller could be bad news for the rest of the NBA.

 

How Many Wins Does Miami's Bench Produce?

The Heat bench has produced an estimated 3.8 wins this season with an estimated 0.087 WP48. The Heat have produced an estimated 17.1 wins this season, so the bench has been responsible for 22 percent of the team's production while playing 38 percent of the minutes.

The most productive players coming off the bench for Miami have been James Jones (0.133 Est. WP48), Udonis Haslem (0.124 Est. WP48), Mario Chalmers (0.123 Est. WP48) and Jamaal Magloire (0.193 Est. WP48). Those four players have produced an estimated 3.1 wins in 1,153.4 minutes off the bench. They are also the only reserves whose productivity has been above average this season.

The rest of the reserves—Eddie House (0.085 Est. WP48), Juwan Howard (0.065 Est. WP48), Erick Dampier (0.074 Est. WP48), Jerry Stackhouse (0.011 Est. WP48) and Joel Anthony (-0.041 Est. WP48)—have only combined to produce an estimated 0.7 wins and most of that production came from House.

 

How Is the Bench With and Without Haslem or Miller?

Which team has the best bench in the NBA?

Submit Vote vote to see results

I broke this question down into five separate questions:

  1. How many wins does the bench produce with Haslem?
  2. How many wins does the bench produce without Haslem?
  3. How many wins would the bench produce if Miller played in the first 23 games (Haslem still gets hurt)?
  4. How many wins does the bench produce with Miller, but no Haslem?
  5. How many wins does the bench produce with Miller and Haslem?


Here are the answers:

  1. With Haslem in the rotation, the bench produced an estimated 0.095 WP48. If he stayed healthy, the bench would have produced an estimated 4.2 wins this season. The extra 0.4 wins produced would give the Heat an estimated 17.5 wins produced for the season, so maybe Haslem's health cost Miami an extra win so far.

  2. Without Haslem in the rotation, the bench has produced an estimated 0.079 WP48 this season. The problem is that Haslem's minutes in the rotation have been given to Howard and Dampier, who have been much less productive. I projected Dampier to be an above average player this season (0.130 WP48) based on his age and productivity last season. I also said I didn't think he would hit that projection after he signed with the Heat.

    In his first seven games with Miami, Dampier has been below average in shooting efficiency, getting to the line, scoring and rebounding. Yes, the big man all the critics were clamoring for the Heat to sign has been a below average rebounder for the Heat. He's averaging 10.9 rebounds per 48 minutes while the typical center in a Heat game is averaging 12.2 rebounds per 48 minutes. If Dampier improves to his projected level of productivity, then the productivity off the bench will get closer to its UD-levels.

    As for Howard, he's been bad at everything except shooting and passing the basketball (which may be good for the Heat offense, but not much else). Unlike Dampier, I have no hope that he will improve.

  3. I had a difficult time figuring out how Coach Erik Spoelstra would give Miller minutes in his rotation if he was available all season, so I took the lazy approach and just replaced James Jones with Miller's projected productivity. In that scenario, the bench's productivity increases from an estimated 0.087 WP48 and 3.8 wins produced to an estimated 0.112 WP48 and five wins produced. If Miller was coming off the bench, and producing as expected,  the Heat could be just 1.5 games behind the Celtics in the Eastern Conference instead of three.

  4. The previous answer includes 13 games of production from UD but when Miller comes back this season, Haslem will still be recovering from the torn ligament in his foot. With Miller coming off the bench without Haslem, the Heat's productivity off the bench would be an estimated 0.087 WP48 if Miller takes Jones' spot in the rotation. If Spoelstra takes minutes from Jones or Chalmers, the Heat won't get anymore productivity than they've already gotten to this point off the bench, but if Spoelstra decides to go small by taking minutes from Dampier or Howard for Miller, then the bench could possibly be more productive. It will be interesting to see what he does when Miller returns.

  5. In the dream scenario, with both Miller and UD coming off the bench, the reserves' productivity jumps from an estimated 0.087 WP48 to an estimated 0.129 WP48. If the Heat had both players healthy all season, the Heat could have two extra wins right now and be breathing down Boston's neck for the No. 1 seed.


How Do the Heat Rank Compared To Other NBA Benches?

HATER ALERT: This is where the article gets scary.

Despite injuries to Haslem and Miller, the Heat have the second-most productive bench this season with 0.090 WP48 (see the spreadsheet below, based on original data available from the Wins Produced Viewer and basketball-reference.com).

 

Ranking  NBA Bench Production

Unless noted otherwise, starting lineups are based on the lineups that have started the most games (according to basketball-reference.com)

Bench WP48 Rank Starters
MAGIC 0.097 1 V. Carter ▪ D. Howard ▪ R. Lewis ▪ J. Nelson ▪ Q. Richardson
HEAT 0.090 2 C. Arroyo ▪ C. Bosh ▪ Z. Ilgauskas ▪ L. James ▪ D. Wade
LAKERS 0.087 3 R. Artest ▪ K. Bryant ▪ D. Fisher ▪ P. Gasol ▪ L. Odom
MAVERICKS 0.082 4 C. Butler ▪ T. Chandler ▪ J. Kidd ▪ D. Nowitzki ▪ D. Stevenson
THUNDER 0.073 5 K. Durant ▪ J. Green ▪ N. Krstic ▪ T. Sefolosha ▪ R. Westbrook
KINGS 0.073 6 D. Cousins ▪ T. Evans ▪ D. Greene ▪ J. Thompson ▪ B. Udrih
BULLS [1] 0.071 7 K. Bogans ▪ C. Boozer ▪ L. Deng ▪ J. Noah ▪ D. Rose
PACERS 0.064 8 D. Collison ▪ M. Dunleavy ▪ D. Granger ▪ R. Hibbert ▪ J. McRoberts
SPURS 0.059 9 D. Blair ▪ T. Duncan ▪ M. Ginobili ▪ R. Jefferson ▪ T. Parker
BOBCATS 0.058 10 D. Augustin ▪ B. Diaw ▪ S. Jackson ▪ N. Mohammed ▪ G. Wallace
76ERS 0.056 11 E. Brand ▪ S. Hawes ▪ J. Holiday ▪ A. Iguodala ▪ E. Turner
NUGGETS 0.053 12 A. Afflalo ▪ C. Anthony ▪ C. Billups ▪ N. Hilario ▪ S. Williams
RAPTORS 0.052 13 A. Bargnani ▪ J. Calderon ▪ D. DeRozan ▪ A. Johnson ▪ S. Weems
CAVALIERS [2] 0.050 14 J. Graham ▪ J. Hickson ▪ A. Parker ▪ A. Varejao ▪ M. Williams
ROCKETS [3] 0.045 15 S. Battier ▪ C. Hayes ▪ K. Lowry ▪ K. Martin ▪ L. Scola
BUCKS [4] 0.038 16 A. Bogut ▪ D. Gooden ▪ B. Jennings ▪ L. Mbah a Moute ▪ J. Salmons
SUNS 0.036 17 G. Hill ▪ R. Lopez ▪ S. Nash ▪ J. Richardson ▪ H. Turkoglu
JAZZ 0.035 18 R. Bell ▪ A. Jefferson ▪ A. Kirilenko ▪ P. Millsap ▪ D. Williams
PISTONS 0.029 19 R. Hamilton ▪ J. Maxiell ▪ T. Prince ▪ R. Stuckey ▪ B. Wallace
NETS 0.028 20 D. Harris ▪ K. Humphries ▪ B. Lopez ▪ A. Morrow ▪ T. Outlaw
TRAILBLAZERS 0.018 21 L. Aldridge ▪ N. Batum ▪ M. Camby ▪ A. Miller ▪ B. Roy
WIZARDS 0.017 22 G. Arenas ▪ A. Blatche ▪ J. McGee ▪ A. Thornton ▪ J. Wall
CELTICS 0.010 23 R. Allen ▪ K. Garnett ▪ S. O'Neal ▪ P. Pierce ▪ R. Rondo
HAWKS -0.002 24 M. Bibby ▪ A. Horford ▪ J. Johnson ▪ J. Smith ▪ M. Williams
HORNETS -0.009 25 T. Ariza ▪ M. Belinelli ▪ E. Okafor ▪ C. Paul ▪ D. West
GRIZZLIES -0.014 26 M. Conley ▪ M. Gasol ▪ R. Gay ▪ X. Henry ▪ Z. Randolph
CLIPPERS -0.022 27 A. Aminu ▪ E. Bledsoe ▪ E. Gordon ▪ B. Griffin ▪ D. Jordan
TIMBERWOLVES -0.028 28 M. Beasley ▪ W. Johnson ▪ K. Love ▪ D. Milicic ▪ L. Ridnour
KNICKS -0.033 29 W. Chandler ▪ R. Felton ▪ L. Fields ▪ D. Gallinari ▪ A. Stoudemire
WARRIORS -0.041 30 A. Biedrins ▪ S. Curry ▪ M. Ellis ▪ D. Lee ▪ D. Wright

 

Notes: [1] Gibson has appeared as a starter for Bulls more than Boozer, but Boozer has been starter since returning from injury. [2] Hickson listed as starter for Cavs because Jamison has only started one game. [3] Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks stats were excluded since they'll be starters when they return from injury. [4] Delfino's production omitted from Bucks' bench since he was a starter before his injury. [5] This was the Kings' starting lineup for last three games. [6] The Wizards started this lineup against the Knicks on 12/10 for the first time this season.

The Magic have the most productive bench in the NBA with an average WP48 of 0.097 and the Lakers are third with an average production of 0.087 WP48 coming from their bench.

Without Miller and Haslem, the Heat bench is averaging an estimated 0.079 WP48, which is fifth-best in the league. With Miller and Haslem coming off the bench, the Heat would have the best bench in the NBA by a good margin (+0.032 WP48). If the Heat and Magic both give 40 percent of the available minutes to their benches, the Heat's advantage with Miller and Haslem coming off the bench would translate to an extra five wins. Not a bad advantage to have over a division rival.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that Miller is looking to return December 25th, but the Heat don't expect him to be healthy until January. As impressive as the Heat have looked during this seven-game winning streak, it can get even better with the return of Miller (and Haslem?).

Don't you love the holidays?




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