Did The Warriors Ruin The Dynasty By Blowing The Draft? Part 8: Comparing the LeBron-Wade-Bosh Miami Heat
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We laid out the constraints and boundaries of this analysis in the series master post, Did The Warriors Ruin The Dynasty By Blowing The Draft? An In-Depth Series. This also has links to all the articles in the series.
For the rest of the series, we will look at how other dynasties drafted. All modern NBA dynasties face the same problems: they draft very late for several years in a row and they are constrained by the salary cap from trading for high draft picks. The whole salary cap and draft / lottery system is built to erode and destroy dynasties.
How well did the Dynasty Miami Heat draft?
This original LeBron superteam dominated the Eastern Conference from 2011 through 2014, after assembling the top two free agents, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, with Dwayne Wade. Perhaps a disappointment due to their dud of a first Finals (losing to Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavericks) and the whimper end of the fourth Finals (losing to the Kill Bill Revenge Spurs).
Let’s examine the Miami Heat dynasty drafts.
#28. Norris Cole. This was a solid draft pick. He played lots of regular season minutes at the backup point guard and solid minutes off the bench in the playoffs after the first year. In Win Shares, he ranked #35 in his draft class, and #54 — dead last among all in his draft class that played NBA minutes — in Value Over Replacement Player. So, quite frankly, advanced stats hate him. Nonetheless, his big minutes show he was playing a significant regular role for the team. He played 992 Playoff Minutes in 62 games.
#31. Traded to MIN with 2014 2nd and cash for #28.
#58. Traded to LAL in 2009 for 2009 #42 (who turned out to be Patrick Beverley!)
#27. Traded to PHI for #45 and PHI future 1st.
#45. Justin Hamilton. Played a handful of games in 2013-2015 and zero playoff minutes.
#57. Traded to BRK for future 2nd.
#30. Traded in LeBron James sign-and-trade.
#50. James Ennis. This was a sneaky great draft pick, but MIA either didn’t know what they had, or didn’t know how to use it. Ennis is #17 in his draft class for Win Shares and #22 in VORP. But most of this came for other teams.
Because of using up the salary cap elsewhere, MIA could not sign him to a minimum salary and Ennis didn’t want to play for a D-League salary, so he played in Australia and Puerto Rico for a year. Then MIA signed him properly for 2014-15, but by then LeBron had already used up all the team’s resources and moved on to the next town. The result is Ennis played 0 Playoff Minutes for MIA.
#60. Minor trade to MEM.
In the master series post, I discussed how I considered a range of options for comparing how well Dynasty teams drafted. came up with a simple measure of how well dynasty teams drafted. Simply count up the total number of minutes the draftees played in playoff games.
Is this a perfect measure? Of course not. But it captures directly how much the team trusted them to play in the most important setting, and how much they were available.
So the Miami Heat in 3 drafts got 3 players, 2 of whom played 0 Playoff Minutes Per Game, and Cole who played 992 Playoff Minutes and 16.0 PMPG, but at an efficiency hated by advanced stats.
The Warriors in 4 drafts got Kevon Looney, Damian Jones, Patrick McCaw, Jordan Bell and Jacob Evans for a total of 1353 Playoff Minutes, and made the sign-and-trade for Andre Iguodala (2851 Playoff Minutes) possible.
One could make an argument either way. Perhaps MIA got better value by getting one player who played 16.0 Playoff Minutes Per Game. Or maybe GSW got better value by getting three players who contributed almost 1300 Playoff Minutes. Or maybe GSW got better value because Kevon Looney didn’t take up a playoff roster spot his first two years and then played 19.1 PMPG his last two years, being an even bigger contributor than Cole.
Looking at trades, maybe MIA got more value for the draft picks by facilitating the LeBron sign and trade because, well he’s LeBron. Or maybe GSW got more value from facilitating Andre Iguodala’s trade, since that sign-and-trade was very very close to not happening, with Andre set to go elsewhere up to the last minute. In contrast, it was an absolute certainty that LeBron was coming, so the LeBron trade was just haggling for value.
I can see these arguments, so I’d argue that the values are roughly in the same neighborhood. The drafts facilitated a key star coming, and also cashed in one key role player. I think GSW got more value from other players (Jordan Bell, Patrick McCaw) drafted as well.
Verdict: We judge the Warriors Dynasty drafted slightly better than the Heat Dynasty, but would respectfully hear out arguments we that the Heat drafted better.
In response to Truckeeman’s comment I wrote:
FYI, every GSW draft pick’s advanced stats are given in their individual reviews in Parts 1-5.
But since Cole is the only comp that I flagged for advanced stats, here it is in one spot. Let’s do Win Shares since Cole is a bit better there. I’ll also update the Warrior pick ranks since the series was written last year.
Cole, #35 rank by Win Shares in draft class
Looney, #13 (#17 now)
McCaw, #24 (#23 now)
Jones, #25 (#19 now)
Bell, #17 (#21 now)
Evans, #40 (#56 last now)
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