The Miami Heat is 41 games deep in what’s been a seesaw season, albeit an entertaining one. Let’s take a look at what lineup combinations have worked thus far and what tweaks might be needed as the team begins the second half tonight against the Bucks.
Note: All stats were pulled from Basketball Reference or NBA.com
Back on December 1, the team’s best lineup was Bosh-less — Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Justise Winslow, and Hassan Whiteside. Today, that group remains Miami’s most efficient lineup among the five lineups that have logged at least 50 minutes, and that’s no slight to Chris Bosh, who is having a tremendous bounce-back season. Those five are below organized from great (green) to neutral (white) to bad (red).
Miami’s starting unit (in white) has been disappointing, outscoring opponents by just 0.8 points per every 100 possessions. Although the reasoning isn’t black and white, the Deng-Wade combination has been iffy, with the duo getting outscored by a team-worst 3.9 points per every 100 possessions. Deng and Wade are also Miami’s two worst players of the 10 regulars when looking at individual on/off metrics — the Heat is seven and six points worse with Deng and Wade on the court, respectively.
That the Heat is playing significantly worse as a team with Wade is initially eye-opening considering his individual numbers look solid (18.5 PTS, 4.1 REB, 4.6 AST, 46% FG, 21.1 PER). The most disconcerting stat attached to Wade is his usage rate of 31.8 percent, which ranks sixth in the NBA despite the three-time champion turning 34 last Sunday. That number is significantly too high for a player who can’t create as efficiently as he used to on a team with a plethora of viable options. Bosh is second at 24.6 percent with Dragic third at 20.2 percent. Flip Wade and Dragic’s usage and the team would unequivocally be better off.
Miami’s five best three-man lineups (min 100 minutes) feature four names in 14 of the 15 slots — Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, and Gerald Green.
Also interesting: Whiteside has netted a total plus/minus of zero on the season in 1,138 minutes, which I found fascinating for one of the most polarizing players heading to free agency this summer.
Although lineup metrics shouldn’t be looked at as the be-all with so many variables to consider, there are a few obvious tweaks Erik Spoelstra can make going forward: less Deng (averaging 31 minutes); less Wade facilitating (more slashing, screening, and posting); and more playing time for Winslow, Green and Johnson on the wings. Pat Riley also might want to test the market with Deng and Whiteside in a hunt for more pure shooting, though the return appears dubious. We’ll play around with the NBA Trade Machine in the coming weeks.
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