The Miami Heat Franchise In a Box

My favorite contemporary writer, the incomparable Bill James, has used the “In a Box” concept in several of his books. Basically what James does is choose a topic (e.g., a baseball manager) and then makes an idiosyncratic list of the topic’s defining features. I think the format works well for a blog post, so today I would like to put the Miami Heat franchise “In a Box”.


25 (1988-89 to 2012-13)

The Heat and the Charlotte Hornets (now the New Orleans Pelicans) came into the NBA as expansion franchises in the 1988-89 season.

Won-Lost Record
1,031-971 (.515)

That translates to a won-lost record of about 42-40 over an 82-game season.

Homecourt Advantage
+.200 (.615 home, .415 away)

The franchise’s best home record came in 2012-13, when the Heat went 37-4 on its homecourt.

Playoff Appearances
17 (68.0 percent)

After missing the playoffs in five of its first seven seasons, the Heat has missed the playoffs just three times in the last 18 seasons.

3 (2005-06, 2011-12, and 2012-13)

From the 1979-80 season to the present the NBA added eight expansion franchises. The only other expansion franchise to win a title during that time is the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Heat in the 2010-11 Finals.

Most Wins
66, 2012-13

Only nine teams in NBA history have won more than the 66 games that the Heat won last season.

Most Losses
67, 1988-89 and 2007-08

The Heat has lost 60 or more games three times while winning 60 or more games twice.

Best Season, Team

Miami went 66-16, had the best adjusted margin of victory in franchise history, had the league MVP (LeBron James), and won the NBA title. That’s basically a dream season.

Worst Season, Team

The Heat’s debut season was a nightmare, as the team won just 15 games and finished with the seventh-lowest adjusted margin of victory in NBA history.

Highest Scoring Average, Team
105.0, 1991-92

Miami has averaged 100 or more points per game just nine times in 25 seasons.

Lowest Scoring Average, Team
85.6, 2002-03

Just four teams in the three-point era (1979-80 to present) have had a lower scoring average than the 2002-03 Heat.

Highest Scoring Average, Player
30.2, Dwyane Wade (2008-09)

Wade has five of the top eight scoring averages in franchise history; the other three belong to LeBron James.

Most Win Shares, Season
19.3, LeBron James (2012-13)

James has been with the Heat just three seasons, but in that time he has put up three of the four highest win share totals in franchise history.

Most Win Shares, Career
99.9, Dwyane Wade (2003-04 to 2012-13)

The closest player to Wade is Alonzo Mourning, who is well behind him with 64.9 win shares. LeBron James has 49.3 win shares in just three seasons with the Heat.

All-Heat Team

PG Tim Hardaway
SG Dwyane Wade
SF LeBron James
PF Chris Bosh
C Alonzo Mourning

A few notes:

  • Hardaway and Wade have little competition for the guard slots.
  • Glen Rice was a fine player for the Heat, but he doesn’t come close to James.
  • Bosh is the pick over P.J. Brown and Udonis Haslem based on his superior offensive game.
  • Shaquille O’Neal was only in Miami for a little over three seasons, but even if he had been there longer Mourning would probably still be the choice.

Best Season, Player
LeBron James, 2012-13

James set franchise records for win shares and win shares per 48 minutes while leading the team to an NBA championship. James was also named MVP for the both the regular season and the NBA Finals.

Worst Season, Player
Rony Seikaly, 1988-89

As a rookie, Seikaly shot just .448 from the floor and .511 from the line, assisted on roughly one out of every 23 teammate field goals while he was on the floor, and turned the ball over on almost 19 percent of his plays. Those statistics contributed to an offensive rating (points produced per 100 possessions) of 88.9, the worst in the NBA among qualified players.

Best Player
Dwyane Wade (2003-04 to present)

Although he may be keeping this spot warm for LeBron James, right now Wade is the choice. Wade has been named to nine All-Star Games, eight All-NBA teams, three All-Defensive teams, and was the MVP of the 2006 NBA Finals.

Best Coach
Erik Spoelstra (2008-09 to present)

I thought about going with Pat Riley here, but in the end Spoelstra’s accomplishments were just too much to ignore. In his first five seasons with the Heat, Spoelstra has:

  1. compiled a won-lost record of 260-134 in the regular season and 50-29 in the playoffs (that’s 16 more playoff wins than Riley had in six fewer seasons);
  2. made five playoff appearances;
  3. won three Eastern Conference championships; and
  4. won two NBA titles.

All-Star Game Selections

Dwyane Wade leads the franchise with nine selections, followed by Alonzo Mourning with five, and Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh with three.

Hall of Famers

Gary Payton — who was just inducted into the Hall of Fame last Sunday — spent the last two seasons of his career with the Heat.

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