The Miami Heat's three All-Stars each ticked off 30 points and 10 rebounds in Sunday's uptempo win over the Houston Rockets; it was the first such occurence of the feat in a regulation game in 50 years. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh: it turns out they're pretty super!
But the Heat only won by six, leading ESPN's master metrician John Hollinger to assess the league's supporting casts to determine just how awful Miami's No. 4 through No. 12 players are compared to say, the Minnesota Timberwolves' No. 4-12 players. Behold! Miami's are the worst, and by no small margin.
Hollinger took teams' PER average weighted by minutes for all but the three players with the most playing time on each squad. For Miami, that's everyone but LeBron, Wade and Bosh. For the Wolves, that removes Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and Luke Ridnour from the equation. And sure enough: the Heat's supporting cast comes in at an average PER of 10.45, the equivalent of nine Bill Walkers. The Wolves come in at 10.93, or nine Nikola Pekovics. (Sadly, the Wolves have just one Nikola Pekovic.)
There's an unmentioned caveat: PER is a bit more dependent on shot creation and scoring than many individual bucket metrics; LeBron, Wade and Bosh not only play more minutes than any teammate, but they collectively soak up a ridiculous share of the offense. Other top-threes usually include at least one non-scorer (a defender or distributor), meaning at least one or two members of the supporting cast will be a featured scorer. That's not the case in Miami, and that may skew the results some.
But there's no denying the conclusion: Miami's supporting cast is awful.