Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Is Jamaal Magloire the answer for the Heat's rebounding woes? (Absolutely not!, maybe?)

So the past two weeks the Miami Heat have gone from worst best team in the NBA after losing five games to the the Knicks, Magic, Spurs, Bulls, and Blazers to now again being mentioned among the elite teams in the NBA after beating the Lakers, Grizzlies, and Spurs. I'm not sure any team in the history of the NBA has had their fortunes turn around so quickly for no apparent reason. By all accounts the Heat are a very good team with some very apparent flaws, but that's not so different from the other contenders in the league. Boston - old, health; Lakers - old, bad PG; Bulls - inexperienced, no SG, etc. All of the contenders have question marks.

The claim against the Heat is they are weak at the PG and Center positions. This claim isn't without it's merits. Mario Chalmers hasn't exactly been lighting up the league. The recently signed Mike Bibby, while being a pretty good spot up three point shooter, is a slow defender to put it kindly. These two players, however, are serviceable at the PG position. They both bring something to the table and are capable of filling a needed role depending on the Heat's opponents at the time.

The biggest issue I've seen with this team isn't at the PG position, it's at the Center position. The Heat platoon of Dampier, Big Z, and Joel Anthony have done a decent job defensively. And again each has a niche they can fill to contribute to the Heat effectively. However, there's one area where all three are falling short: Rebounding.

Now you might say, "But.. Miami is one of the top rebounding teams in the league statistically."

And I'd reply, "That's true, but let's look at some of these statistics more closely."

Below are the NBA team rebounding numbers as of March 15th.

Click for google docs version

This shows us a couple of things. 1) Miami for it's faults is a good rebounding team overall. 2) They are a horrible offensive rebounding team 3) Many of the teams the Heat could potentially play in the playoffs are very good offensive rebounding teams.

Overall according to the statistics the Heat are the best defensive rebounding team in the league. However, there's some individual games that point to the contrary.

3/8 Portland - Portland gets 12 ORebs. The Heat lose this game because they allowed too many offensive rebounds and had 4 more TOs than the Blazers. Thus allowing the Blazers to take 7 more shots.

3/6 Chicago - A similar story. Chicago gets 10 ORebs. Heat are -1 TOs and -6 Rebounding. The Bulls are able to take 5 more shots. Heat lose by 1.

3/3 Orlando - The Heat get outrebounded by Howard 9-8 in the 4th quarter aiding the Magic in their giant come back. The game numbers are similar, but rebounding in the 2nd half was all Orlando. Orlando wins by 3.

Anyway, I think you get the point by now. The Heat struggle most when they're turning over the ball and not getting defensive rebounds. Now this brings me to the point of this post. Below is a list of the Heat player's rebounding stats. All stats have been taken from basketball-reference.com. Go there and click on the glossary for an explanation of how to calculate them.

Click here for google docs version

Here we can see why when up against good rebounding teams the Heat struggle keeping them off the boards. 1) They're best rebounder, Haslem, has been injured almost the entire season. 2) Their second best rebounder, who actually gets playing time, is their 6th man and a SG/SF in Mike Miller. 3) Their starting C is their 9th best rebounder according to statistics.

Now #3 would seem to be a problem. You can forgive Bosh for not being the top rebounder because he plays away from the rim so much, and honestly he's been a pretty decent rebounder on the defensive end. But Erick Dampier has been terrible on both the offensive and defensive glass, yet he's always near the rim. And herein lies my suggest for Coach Spoelstra. Jamaal Magloire has barely played at all this season.(Understatement, he's played 83 minutes this season, 35 in the last two games!) So I urge caution with his rebounding statistics, but I think he deserves a chance on the court. In the last two games against Memphis and San Antonio (where he finally got time because Big Z has been hurt) he's played pretty well. His rebounding numbers where great in both games (vSpurs 12.6TRb/36; vGriz 10.3 TRb/36). His defense hasn't seem to be any worse than Dampier's (maybe not as big of a shot blocker, but his rebounding seems to be much better). And we know his offense can't be any more non-existent than Damp's.

As I said, we're talking about extremely small samples regarding Magloire here, but it's worth a shot. The Heat already have a three man rotation at center, what's adding one more player to the mix going to do. I'd like to see more of how the team plays with Magloire at the center position. I hope Spoelstra does too.

Now that you're sure I'm a completely daft, I'll leave you with this wonderful view of beaches and sand so that you'll forget everything I've said...

Oh, Malibu...

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