The NBA measures how effective a player is when they are on the court, and also how effective their team is when they are not on the court. For example, when LeBron plays, the Heat score 13.3 points more than they give up, per 100 possessions. When LeBron doesn’t play, the Heat get outscored by 3.1 points, per 100 possessions. Thus, the point differential per 100 possessions when LeBron is playing versus when he isn’t is an astounding 16.4 points.
So for the Heat, which players help the Heat the most when they play, and which players don’t help the Heat when they play? Note: I only chose players that had played at least 400 minutes this season (SORRY JUWAN HOWARD!)
(JUWAN, don’t be mad….I said I was sorry)
Things that I noticed about the following graph:
- Just to clarify, I first took all the Heat players that had played at least 400 minutes this year. Then, I compared their net rating (their point differential per 100 possessions) when they were on the court to when they were off the court. This difference in net rating is illustrated below. Thus, a negative net difference means that when the player is not playing, the team has a higher point differential than when the player is actually on the court — i.e. the team suffers when the player is on the court. A positive net difference means that when a player is not playing, the team has a lower point differential than when the player is actually on the cour — the team suffers when the player sits.
- It is not totally surprising that the bench players have worse ratings than the starters — bench players tend to be inferior to starters (hence why they aren’t starting). In addition, this gap in quality between the starters and the bench is especially large with the Heat ; for example, Mike Miller has been starting for Dwayne Wade while Wade’s been out with a knee injury (a scenario which is like bringing a tank to a gun fight, except that your tank just ran out of gas, so instead you have to fight with a butter knife duller than Tim Duncan).
- That being said, I would expect bench players to have relatively good ratings as bench lineups tend to play against other bench lineups, and bench players play with LeBron/Wade/Bosh/Chalmers for large chunks of time too. For example, how many alley-oops have we seen between Norris Cole and LeBron James (uh, hmmmm how about…this, this, and this)? I view Norris Cole as a valuable and effective bench player, so I know I was surprised to see that when Norris Cole plays, the Heat give up around 10 more points than they score per 100 possessions compared to when Norris Cole is on the bench. This might be because the Heat starters are just so efficient that when Cole comes in for Wade or Chalmers, they don’t play at the same level they were playing at before.
- Shane Battier is basically the only bench player that gives the Heat an advantage when he plays versus when he is on the bench. This might be because a ton of his minutes are played with LeBron/Wade/Bosh/Chalmers and he benefits from playing from the best players on the Heat. It could also be simply due to the fact that Battier is actually a better player than Haslem, and that Battier should be starting over Haslem.