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Is Mike Bibby an upgrade for the Miami Heat?

Guest writer Danny Martinez contributes an analysis of Mike Bibby's numbers as compared to Mario Chalmers and Carlos Arroyo as well as whether the right point guard was cut from the team. Follow Danny on Twitter @DannyMartinez4

The Heat will soon announce the official signing of former Grizzly, King, Hawk and Wizard point guard Mike Bibby. He takes over the roster spot that was vacated by Carlos Arroyo on Tuesday afternoon. There has been much debate over whether Bibby is any sort of upgrade and whether the Heat waived the right point guard. The answer to both is yes.

In the point guard position, the Miami Heat look for two things: the ability to bring the ball up the floor and the ability to knock down open threes. Anything else on the offensive end is gravy. Of guards that have played a minimum of 40 games while averaging at least 20 minutes per game, Mario Chalmers and Carlos Arroyo rank 75th and 78th respectively in Usage Rate (Bibby on the Hawks comes in at 74th). This means that the Heat want the majority of their possessions ending with someone other than the point guard on the floor.

A premium is placed on shooting since most defenses will collapse on Wade, James or Bosh leaving the point guard unguarded. Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) properly weights three pointers, since they do count for more points after all. Using this metric we can determine whom the Heat want shooting the rock. Mario Chalmers’ eFG% is 52.3%, Carlos Arroyo’s eFG% is 51.7 and Mike Bibby’s eFG% is 56.3 (league average is 49.8%). Bibby is substantially better than the others, while Chalmers edges Arroyo. From just three-point range Bibby is shooting 44.1%, while Chalmers and Arroyo are shooting 35.8% and 43.8% respectively (Arroyo’s is a career 33.5% three-point shooter). Bibby stands out pretty clearly on the offensive end, but he’s supposed to be awful defensively.

If you haven’t already I suggest you check out Tom Haberstoh’s analysis of Bibby’s defense here. The gist of it is that Mike Bibby isn’t the pylon he is made out to be, at least not this year. The Hawks’ defensive rating with Bibby on the floor was 105.4, but while he’s off the floor their rating was 106.2. The Hawks, an above average defensive team, were actually better defensively with Bibby on the floor (this was the case last year as well). Mario Chalmers’ play has very little effect on the Heat’s defensive rating, 102.4 on the floor and 102.3 with him off the floor (he’s had virtually the same effect in all three of his seasons). Carlos Arroyo is the only one of the three that negatively impacts the team’s defense, as the Heat’s defensive rating climbs from 101.7 with him off the floor to 103.7 with him on the floor. This defensive impact is the reason Spo swapped Chalmers and Arroyo in the starting lineup.

It is pretty clear why the Heat have decided to sign Mike Bibby for the remainder of this season. He provides the Heat with special outside shooting and doesn’t present a huge drop off defensively from other options. Carlos Arroyo was waived because, as frustrating as he is, Mario Chalmers is the better player. Doing the same comparison as I used previously, except with offensive rating instead of defensive, shows the same thing. Carlos played to the best of his abilities this season, but his play dropped off from November to January as his shooting percentages dropped through each month. With the roster moves, the Heat got better this week, and really, that’s all that matters.

Comparing the Bibby/Chalmers point guard combination to a certain other successful combination (2006 Williams/Payton) provides some interesting insight, but that’s a different post for a different day.