A lot has changed throughout the Heat's up-and-down season, but there has always been a constant: injuries.
But a study published today by Basketball Prospectus and ESPN Insider writer Kevin Pelton shows that the Heat aren't alone and, in fact, the Heat should be pretty fortunate with their bill of health this season. Many teams have suffered through far greater injury bugs thus far.
How do we know? Pelton did the heavy-lifting and pored through the media guides of all 30 teams to come up with a chart that details each teams' games missed this season. Where do the Heat rank on that list? Not very high. With 116 games missed, the Heat rank 19th most in the league. The Heat better not whine on Wednesday about their injuries, even if Dwyane Wade (Wednesday status: doubtful) sits out with a deep thigh bruise. Why? The Heat's Wednesday opponent: the Milwaukee Bucks, who lead the league with 267 games missed between 15 (fifteen!) different players. They don't want to hear it.
But Pelton doesn't wrap up there. He understands that total games missed isn't the best statistic to gauge a team's injury record because it's not as important how much a team gets injured as it is who gets injured. There's a big difference between the Big Three missing 116 games and a trio of Juwan Howard, Jamaal Magloire and Dexter Pittman missing 116 games. So Pelton takes it a step further and multiplies the games missed by the player's minutes per game. If you play more, you're more valuable to the team. Considering the Heat have suffered significant injuries to rotation players like Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem, the Heat move up the ranks in this measure, ranking 15th with 2,889 minutes lost on the season. Again, Milwaukee paces the league in this measure of time spent in the infirmary. Hush, Heat fans, they still don't want to hear it.
Pelton then uses his player metric (WARP, or wins over replacement player) to take it yet another step further to offer another perspective on the issue. This time, we're not worried about minutes as much as we're concerned with player quality (as measured by WARP). Sure, the Heat missed Mike Miller, who plays about 20 minutes per game, but judging by how underwhelming his play on the court has been this season, we may be overstating it. So what does this measure say? The Heat are the 20th most injury battered team this season once we account for the quality of the injured players. The Bucks actually drop down to third by this measure with the Blazers and Rockets leading (limping?) the way.
For reference, the Bulls rank 27th-most in games missed, 20th in minutes lost and 5th in WARP lost. The Celtics? Third, 2nd, and 8th. The Lakers? Twelfth, 21st, and 9th.
The big takeaway here is that the Big Three have been remarkably healthy this season. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have only sat out four games each this season. LeBron James? Just two. It could be a lot worse.
Just ask Milwaukee.