The best player Pat Riley's drafted is Dwyane Wade and the best free agent he's signed is Alonzo Mourning (so far).
LeBron James did not need a college education to be an important player for the Miami Heat, but Alonzo Mourning and Dwyane Wade proved their time in college made them very valuable athletes. No Heat players with three or four years in college have been more productive than Mourning or Wade in franchise history.
From college seniors to high school seniors, let's take a look at the best Heat players in each class.
This article will use Wins Produced, a statistical model created by sports economist David Berri from the Wages of Wins Journal, to measure how much a player's box score statistics contributed to their team's wins. An average player produces 0.100 wins per 48 minutes (WP48), a star player produces +0.200 WP48 and a superstar produces +0.300 WP48.
The stats used in this article are powered by NerdNumbers.
This spreadsheet lists all players in Heat history that spent four years in college. Seniors produced 62 percent of Heat wins in 23 seasons. Nine of the 10 most productive players in team history were seniors.
The most productive senior in franchise history is Alonzo Mourning with 73.8 wins produced (0.203 WP48) in 11 seasons. The second most productive senior is Eddie Jones with 44.9 wins produced (0.153 WP48) in six seasons.
This spreadsheet lists all 17 players in Heat history that spent three years in college. Juniors produced 22 percent of the wins in franchise history.
This spreadsheet lists the 12 players in HEAT history with two years of college experience. Sophomores only produced 3 percent of the HEAT wins since 1989.
The most productive sophomore in team history is Lamar Odom with 12.6 wins produced (0.201 WP48), and the second most productive sophomore is Quentin Richardson with 8.7 wins produced (0.202 WP48).
Caron Butler (8.1 wins produced, 0.079 WP48), Antoine Walker (-2.0 wins produced, -0.024 WP48) and Mark Blount (-3.4 wins produced, -0.092 WP48) are the only sophomores to play more than one season with the Heat.
This spreadsheet lists the five players in Heat history with one year of college experience. Freshmen produced one percent of the Heat wins all-time.
Freshmen were the least productive class of Heat players with just 0.042 wins produced per 48 minutes (an average player produces 0.100 WP48).
Vladimir Stepania was productive for the Miami HEAT while Alonzo Mourning battled his kidney disease.
This spreadsheet lists the five foreign players in Heat history. Foreign players produced one percent of the Heat wins in the NBA.
The most productive foreign player in franchise history is Vladimir Stepania with 9.8 wins produced (0.189 WP48), and the second most productive foreign player is Sasha Danilovic with 0.7 wins produced (0.017 WP48).
No foreign player stayed on the Heat roster more than two seasons.
This spreadsheet lists the three high school players in Heat history. High schoolers produced four percent of team wins all-time.
The most productive high school player in franchise history is LeBron James with 22.8 wins produced (0.358 WP48), and the second most productive high school player is Dorell Wright with 15.4 wins produced (0.180 WP48).
Jermaine O'Neal (2.2 wins produced, 0.037 WP48) and Shaun Livingston (-0.1 wins produced, -0.134 WP48) are the only other high school players to wear a Heat uniform. Livingston only played 41 minutes in the 2009 season.
Now that the hard part is out of the way, let's name the starters and reserves for the best in class of the Heat team.
G - Eddie Jones, Senior
C - Shaquille O'Neal, Junior
G/F - Dorell Wright, High School
C - Vladimir Stepania, Foreign
G/F - Quentin Richardson, Sophomore
F - Michael Beasley, Freshman
G - Sasha Danilovic, Foreign
Of course, the captains for my best in class Heat team would be Mourning and Wade. They make a good team, as evidenced by their work for Zo's Summer Groove, which kicks off next weekend.