Most Startling Statistics of Miami Heat's Season so Far
The Heat appeared to be transitioning well into the post-LeBron James era, as they won five of their first seven games. Since then, Miami has played some putrid basketball and has lost four of its last five games.
The Heat's Jekyll-and-Hyde ways currently have them sixth in the Eastern Conference standings.
We're going to break down this strange start—examining what's helped Miami and what's hurt the team—by taking a look at the five most interesting statistics to come from it.
Defensive Efficiency Rank
Erik Spoelstra is a defensive-first coach. Since he replaced Pat Riley before the 2008-09 season, the Heat have never ranked worse than 11th in points allowed per possession for a season.
Defense is the area Miami is supposed to excel in.
So it should be especially concerning that the Heat rank 19th in defensive efficiency this season, allowing a whopping 104.3 points per 100 possessions, per ESPN.com.
Now, there are excuses to be made. The Heat have dealt with frontcourt injuries, which have only heightened their rim-protection problems, and they underwent significant roster changes this offseason, so team chemistry isn't all the way there yet.
"This defensive system is built on trust, and we're not there yet," Bosh said. "I think that's obvious. But guys have to take their positions, guys have to know their rotations. They have to know exactly what they're doing when the ball goes to a certain place. While we did have guys out, and it is tough, I still like winning. I don't like losing.
Given Spoelstra's ability as a defensive coach and the talented players on this team, Miami is likely to pick things up on the defensive end to some extent soon. But there's no getting around the fact that defense has been a huge problem area for the Heat this season.
Three-Point Shooting Efficiency
With a roster that included LeBron, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, James Jones and Rashard Lewis, the Heat ranked 12th in three-point efficiency last season.
Given each one of those sharpshooters left Miami this past offseason, it was easy entering this season to predict the Heat would be a less potent outside shooting team.
However, 12 games in, Miami is shooting 37.4 percent from beyond the arc, the seventh-best rate in the NBA.
The biggest reason for the Heat's hot shooting start is newcomer Shawne Williams. The 28-year-old has canned 50.9 percent of his three-point attempts.
At some point, Miami is going to see regression kick in with Williams, as he's a career 34.7 percent three-point shooter.
Still, even factoring in his cooling down somewhat, Williams is proving to be a strong offensive threat for Miami and a great free-agent pickup from this past summer.
It's hard to believe a team that starts Dwyane Wade (career 29.1 3P%) and Luol Deng (career 33.0 3P%) on the wing can continue to remain even close to being an elite three-point shooting team. But perhaps, at the very least, this strong start in an indication that Miami will be better from beyond the arc than many of us believed it would be entering the year.
Dwyane Wade Games Played
The Heat's biggest concern entering this season was Wade's health.
The 32-year-old missed 28 regular-season games last season as part of a maintenance program that was designed to ensure his health for the playoffs.
This season, without LeBron, the Heat weren't afforded the luxury of creating such a plan. They need Wade to be in the lineup almost every single night.
He's Miami's X-factor. With Wade healthy and on his game, the Heat can be one of the top teams in the East. With him injured, Miami is not much of a threat.
Through eight games, Wade as Miami's X-factor was a great thing for the team. He was playing well (19.8 PPG, 6.4 APG), and the Heat were 5-3.
But a hamstring injury caused him to miss the Heat's next four games, three of which the team lost.
That these issues have already crept up so early into the season has to worry Spoelstra and Co.
Winning Percentage at Home
Home should be an NBA team's sanctuary. It should be where it racks up the majority of its wins.
Well, the AmericanAirlines Arena has not been kind to the Heat this season. Miami has just a 42.8 winning percentage through seven home games.
Yes, we're dealing with a small sample size here.
The Heat's point differential in their other two home losses is minus-34. Even when facing strong competition (Miami lost to the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers), top teams rarely, if ever, get blown out at home.
It's worth noting the Heat had Wade for just the Rockets and Pacers games. But even understanding how important Wade is to this team, Miami should still come away with home wins against the lowly Bucks and, at least, not get run out of its own building by the Clippers.
The Heat will have to pick things up at home if they are to reach their potential this season.
Shabazz Napier Minutes Per Game
Shabazz Napier's role was very much in question heading into this season.
However, at this point, it's clear that Napier is not only a rotation player but also a key cog for Miami.
He is averaging 21.6 minutes per game, not too far off starting point guard Norris Cole's 23.8 minutes per game.
Napier's playing time is justified too.
He hasn't consistently stuffed the stat sheet (6.2 PPG, 2.4 APG), but he's progressing as a player. That showed in Miami's last game, where he had a 17-point performance against the Clippers.
Cole spoke about Napier's progression to Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel. "He's growing every day," Cole said. "He works on his game. He's in the gym, all day every day. He's asking the right questions. The more he sees the game, the better off he'll be."
Napier is certainly flashing NBA talent. He has the handles and playmaking ability to have success at this level, and there have never been questions about his work ethic.
It's looking like the Heat made the right choice when they traded for Napier's rights during this past draft.