Heat

NBA Analysis: Impact of Mike Bibby on Heat

| by David Berri

Mike Bibby’s career in Washington is only going to last two games.  And now he is headed to the Miami Heat. Judging by the comments from the Heat, the addition of Bibby is being met with a fair amount of optimism.

“…the Heat’s players were already in a welcoming mood for Bibby, who officially clears waivers at 6 p.m. ET Wednesday. Heat forward LeBron James said he was on the verge of becoming teammates with Bibby in Cleveland several years ago before the veteran guard was traded from Sacramento to Atlanta.

This time James won’t miss out on sharing a perimeter role with Bibby.

“A few years ago, we tried — we had an opportunity to get him in Cleveland,” James said after Tuesday’s 2½-hour team film study and practice session. “It didn’t work out, when he was getting traded away from Sacramento and went to Atlanta. So I’ve had some conversations with him and said, ‘It would be good to have you as our point guard.’ It’s good that it’s come full circle.”

“I think it’s a big thing for us,” said Heat guard Eddie House, Bibby’s brother-in-law. “He’s going to do a lot of things that can help LeBron, Dwyane and everyone else around here.”

Is Bibby, though, really going to help that much?

To answer this question, let’s look at what Bibby did for the Atlanta Hawks this season.

After 60 games the Atlanta Hawks have won 36 games.  The team, though, has only out-scored their opponents by 54 points this season.  So the team’s efficiency differential is only 0.97; and that means the team’s Wins Produced is only 31.6.

When we look at the Hawks roster – reported in the table below – we can see that Al Horford, Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, and Marvin Williams have produced 28.8 of these wins.  As for Bibby, his WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes] in Atlanta was only 0.078 (average WP48 is 0.100).  And his Wins Produced was only 2.7, which tells us that Bibby didn’t play a big role in Atlanta’s success this season.

Bibby not helping the Hawks much, though, isn’t the question.  Can Bibby help the Heat?  To answer this question let’s first compare Bibby to the two point guards the Heat have employed this year.  The following table compares the career numbers– prior to this season — of Bibby, Mario Chalmers and Carlos Arroyo (Arroyo was cut to make this move happen).

Prior to the 2010-11 season, Bibby had played for 11 years and produced 66.5 wins.  When we consider WP48 we see a career mark of 0.109, which is slightly above average.  But again, he has been slightly below average this year.  And the same is true in four of the past five seasons.  Of course Bibby is now 31 years old.  So returning to the above average player seen in the past seems unlikely (although possible).

Turning to the players Bibby is replacing… both Chalmers and Arroyo has also posted career WP48 marks that are somewhat below average.  And when we turn to this season – detailed below – we once again see somewhat below average marks.

This season Chalmers has posted a 0.078 mark.  With this move, one would assume Chalmers goes to the bench and the Heat will add Bibby – and his 0.078 WP48 – to the starting line-up. So Bibby doesn’t appear to be a big upgrade over Chalmers.

Meanwhile, Chalmers takes on the role of Arroyo, who only posted a 0.021 WP48 mark this year.  Yes, Chalmers has done more than Arroyo.  But across the 995 minutes Arroyo has played this year, moving from a 0.021 WP48 to a 0.078 mark would only add about 1.2 wins for the Heat.

To make this move happen, Bibby accepted a buyout that will cost him $6.2 million.  He did this so that he can win a title.  And that may actually happen.  But I don’t think – given the numbers posted by Bibby, Chalmers, and Arroyo – that Bibby is really going to improve the Heat.  So if the Heat do win a title, this move is not going to be the reason why that happens.

Let me close by asking a related question:  How much money have the Heat players given up to win a title?  The Super Friends have all come with a discount.  And I think Mike Miller took less to joint the Heat.  And now Bibby is doing the same. One would think that people who want athletes to focus on wins — and not money – would love this team.  But I sense that is not the case.  LeBron and company have actually just generated a great deal of hate.  Which leads me to ask… what do these sports fans want?

- DJ