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Five Stars: 2003-04

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2003-04 offered a return to respectability for the Heat with the emergence of Dwyane Wade.

Pacers v Heat Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

2003-04 would see a return to respectability for the Heat, who picked up a few key pieces for the inevitable first NBA Championship. The team went 42-40 in their 16th season, with eight winning and eight losing seasons to their credit. Although they were only two games above .500, it was good enough for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, where they finished off the New Orleans Hornets in a tough fought seven-game series. They eventually bowed out in the second round of the playoffs, to the top seeded Indiana Pacers in six games.

First Star

7 Lamar Odom 1186.8

Odom was a 6’10”, 220 lb. three and four from Jamaica, New York. After a single season with the University of Rhode Island Rams in which he averaged 17.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists over 32 games, the Los Angeles Clippers chose him in the first round of the 1999 NBA Entry Draft, with the fourth overall pick. He played four seasons with the club, scoring 13.7 points with 7.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.1 blocks and a steal per game over 312 contests.

On August 26th, 2003, Odom signed a contract with the Heat through free agency, a six-year, $72 million deal.

Odom led Miami with 3,003 minutes on the court, starting in all 80 of his appearances at power forward, scoring a team-second 1,371 points. He made 485-of-1127 shots for a .430 shooting percentage, and drained 61-of-205 from long distance for a .298 success rate. He also made 340-of-458 from the foul line (.742), and led Miami with an NBA-10th 776 rebounds and 71 blocks. He pitched in for a team-second 327 assists and ranked fourth on the squad with 85 steals.

Odom’s per-game totals were similar in tone to his cumulative stats, with a team-leading 37.5 minutes per game and a team-second 17.1 points. Although he led Miami with 9.7 rebounds per game, he was only third on the club with 160 offensive boards. From an advanced metrics viewpoint, he was the best player on the team, putting up an 18.5 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) on a team-third 24.5% usage rate. His 4.0 Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) led the team, and his 8.4 Win Shares ranked second.

Odom had 37 double-doubles over the course of the season, with 26 instances of him scoring 20 or more points and 10 games where he grabbed at least 15 rebounds. On February 4th, he scored 27 points on eight-of-13 shooting, with nine assists, five boards and four steals in a 99-88 loss to the New Jersey Nets. Four days later, in a 97-91 loss to the Indiana Pacers, he scored 25 points with seven rebounds, seven assists, and four blocks in 45 minutes. By GameScore, his best performance of the season was on March 6th, when he scored 30 points with 19 rebounds and 11 assists for his only Heat triple-double, as Miami topped the Sacramento Kings, 102-96.

Odom had similar value to the team through their 13-game playoff appearance, with a club-second 16.8 PER. He started in every game and led the team with 39.4 minutes per game, with 16.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.8 helpers, and 1.2 steals per appearance. His best game through the second-season came on April 27th, in a Game Four, 96-85 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, when he scored 25 with eight rebounds and six assists.

Despite his position as a team-leader, the Heat packaged Odom with Caron Butler, Brian Grant, and two draft picks (Jordan Farmar and Renaldas Seibutis) to the Los Angeles Lakers for Shaquille O’Neal.

Odom spent over half of his career with the Lakers (in games played), playing in 519 games and scoring 13.7 points with 8.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 35.1 minutes per night. He later played with the Dallas Mavericks (50 games, 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists) before playing his final season where he started, with the Clippers in 2012-13.

Odom is perhaps just as well known as Khloe Kardashian’s ex-husband, due to his recurring appearances on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” He was discovered unconscious at the Love Ranch in Crystal, Nevada on October 13th, 2015, and was placed on life support before making a recovery.

Second Star

6 Eddie Jones 1054.4

Jones played his way into the Five Stars for the fourth time in his four seasons with the Heat, starting at shooting guard in 81 games in 2003-04. He played 2,998 minutes to rank second on the club, with a team-leading 1,401 points, a team-fifth 308 rebounds, a team-fourth 258 assists, a team-second 92 steals, and a team-third 34 blocked shots.

Jones’ per-game stats were also in line with his cumulative statistics for the most part, with a team-second 37.0 minutes per appearance. He led the team with 17.3 points, ranked fourth with 3.2 assists, and third with 1.1 steals. He made 473-of-1156 shots from the field (.409) and 177-of-479 from deep (.370), with an .835 success rate from the foul stripe (278-for-333). He was third in the NBA in three-pointers made and fifth in the league in three-pointers attempted.

Jones put up a team-third best PER, with a mark of 16.7, along with a team-leading 9.1 Win Shares, a 22.5% usage rate, and a team-second 3.3 VORP.

Jones finished in double figures 70 times through the season, scoring 20 or more 32 times. On January 2nd, in a 112-101 win over the Orlando Magic, he scored a season-high 33 points with eight helpers and six boards. He scored 27 points on January 26th, going four-of-five from outside and adding five steals in a 95-81 Miami win over the Houston Rockets. On February 20th, in a 125-92 win over the Atlanta Hawks, he scored 24 points in 26 minutes, going eight-of-nine from the field including all four of his three-point shot attempts. He added six assists in the effort.

Jones’ performance suffered in the transition to the postseason, and would see his PER dip to 13.8, or just below an “average player” performance. He averaged 13.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.4 steals, playing in an average of 36.8 minutes per contest.

Third Star

3 Dwyane Wade 830.0

Wade, more commonly known as “D-Wade” or “Flash,” is a 6’4”, 220 lb. shooting guard from Chicago, Illinois. Born on January 17th, 1982, he played two seasons of college ball with Marquette, averaging 19.7 points with 6.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 65 contests. After the Heat sucked through the 2003-04 season, and Wade increased his draft value in a tremendous sophomore season with the Wildcats, it would eventually prove to be Miami’s best ever front-office decision to select him with the fifth overall choice in the 2003 NBA Entry Draft.

Wade earned All Star honors in every season excepting his rookie campaign, although he did make the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team, along with LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and.....Kirk Hinrich? (shakes head) Anyway, Wade started 56 times for Miami at shooting guard, appearing in five other contests off the bench. He was fifth on the team with 2,126 minutes played, with a team-third 991 points (he would never score less than 1,000 again), 247 rebounds, a team-third 275 assists, a team-third 86 steals, and a team-third 34 blocked shots.

Wade made 371-of-798 shots from the field overall, 16-of-53 from outside (.302) and 233-of-312 from the charity stripe (.747). He was third on the team with 16.2 points scored and with 34.9 minutes on the floor per game, but tied for the team lead with 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals. His 0.6 blocks per game tied for second on the team, and he even ranked fifth with 4.0 rebounds.

Wade’s 17.6 PER would remain the lowest of his career through the present day, by quite a wide margin, as he generally averaged 25.2 not counting his rookie season. He had a 1.8 VORP and a 25.0% usage rate which ranked him first on the team, along with 4.6 Win Shares, which ranked him behind the other four stars and All-Rookie Second team selection Udonis Haslem.

Miami would post a 34-27 regular season record with Wade in the lineup, and an 8-13 record when he sat. He scored in double-digits 51 times, including 20 or more points on 19 occasions. On December 16th, he scored 32 points on 15-of-22 shooting, with eight assists and six rebounds in a win over the Atlanta Hawks, 97-79. Five days later, he had his best game of the season, by GameScore, with 33 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including all three of his triples along with eight assists and three boards in a 104-93 victory over the Golden State Warriors. He got the better of his draft-classmate LeBron James on April 9th, in a 106-91 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, scoring 20 points with seven helpers and five steals.

Wade would also excel in the postseason, averaging 18 points with 5.6 assists over the 13 contests and leading Miami with a 17.7 PER. He had his best showing in Miami’s Game Six 89-83 loss to the New Orleans Hornets, playing 47 minutes and scoring 27 points with seven boards and six rebounds.

Fourth Star

11 Rafer Alston 707.9

Alston was a 6’2”, 171 lb. point guard from New York City. Born on July 24th, 1976, he attended several colleges, Ventura College, Fresno City College, and CSU-Fresno in 1997-98, where he averaged 11 points and 7.3 rebounds in 33 games. The Milwaukee Bucks selected him in the second round of the 1998 NBA Entry Draft, with the 39th overall choice, but he didn’t make the team right away.

After gaining some notoriety on the AND1 Mixtape Tour in 1999, he eventually would rejoin the Bucks, getting into 114 games over three seasons. His per game totals were nothing to write home about, but he put up 9.1 points, 8.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per 36 minutes during his time there. He then played in 47 games with the Toronto Raptors, playing 21 minutes a night and putting up per36 numbers of 13.4 points, 7.1 helpers, 3.9 boards, and 1.4 steals.

During the 2003 offseason, Alston signed on to play with the Heat, for the veteran minimum of $688,679. He started in 28 games at point guard for Miami, and was the only player to appear in all 82 contests. He ranked eighth in the league with 161 three-pointers, and sixth with 434 attempts for a .371 success rate.

Alston spent what was arguably his best professional season with the Heat (probably his second best, really), but he only played here for one season. He was third on the team with 2,581 minutes on the floor, and fourth with 838 points. He dealt out a team-leading 372 assists, also leading the club with 114 steals, pitching in 226 rebounds and 18 blocked shots.

Alston shot just .376 from the field, making 287-of-764 field goals, while draining 103-of-134 foul shots (.769). His per-game totals were just about what you would expect from a Fourth Star, ranking fourth with 10.2 points while tying for first with 4.5 assists and with 1.4 steals. Despite his contribution, by and large, he was not a conventional “efficient” player, posting a 13.7 PER. He only had one “above average” season measuring with the PER statistic, the very next season with the Toronto Raptors, when he finished with a mark of 16.5. As part of the Heat, he was third on the team with 5.9 Win Shares and with a 2.1 VORP. Even though he was a starting point guard, his usage rate ranked last amongst Miami’s starters, at just 17.3%.

Alston had 44 games where he finished in double figures. On February 11th, he lit up the scoreboard against the Orlando Magic, with a season-high tying 23 points on seven-of-11 shooting, including all four of his deep impact shots in a 111-98 Heat win. He also had five assists, four steals, and three boards in the contest. His best game of the year was on March 4th, in a 104-98 win against the Milwaukee Bucks. He scored 23 points on eight-of-nine shooting, with eight helpers, five rebounds, four steals and a block in the effort.

Alston’s PER dropped to 10.0 through Miami’s 13-game postseason encore. His best game of the playoffs was on May 6th, as Miami dropped a Game One, 94-81 loss to the Indiana Pacers. He scored 17 points with four assists and four rebounds off the bench.

Alston joined the Raptors the following season (80 games, 14.2 points, 6.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals), then later played with the Houston Rockets for parts of four seasons (267 games, 12.6 points, 5.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.4 steals), the Orlando Magic (29 games, 12.0 points, 5.1 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.8 steals) and the New Jersey Nets (27 games, 9.7 points, 3.9 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals) before closing out his career back with the Heat in 2009-10 (25 games, 9.4 points, 4.1 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.3 steals).

Fifth Star

44 Brian Grant 578.1

Grant played four seasons with the Heat, and finished in the Five Stars in each of them. In 2003-04, he played in and started 76 games at center, averaging 30.3 minutes per appearance to rank fifth on the team. He also ranked fifth with 8.7 points and second with 6.9 rebounds. He made 289-of-613 shots overall (.471) and 86-of-110 from the foul line (.782).

Grant was fourth on the Heat with 2,303 minutes played, fifth with 664 points, second with 35 blocks and with 524 rebounds. He had 10 double-doubles through the season, scoring in double figures 28 times. His best game of the year was on December 29th, when he had 18 points with a dozen rebounds in 31 minutes as the Heat downed the Chicago Bulls, 90-83.

Grant’s 12.1 PER was the lowest mark of his career to that point, and had him below the other Five Stars plus Rasual Butler, Udonis Haslem, and Loren Woods. He had a 15.2% usage rate and a team-fourth 4.9 Win Shares.

Grant averaged 7.1 points with 8.6 rebounds through his 13 playoff appearances. After the season, the Heat sent him to the Lakers in the big Shaquille O’Neal acquisition. Grant played 69 games with the Lakers (3.8 points, 3.7 rebounds) then 21 games with the Phoenix Suns (2.9 points, 2.7 rebounds).

Parkinson retired after the 2005-06 season, and two years later was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. According to Wikipedia:

After retiring from the NBA and moving his family back to his adopted hometown of Portland, Oregon, Grant was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in November 2008. With new friends in Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali, who share the disease with Brian, he decided to recreate the Brian Grant Foundation; this time, with a new focus and mission. The new charity supports efforts toward the education and awareness of Parkinson’s disease in order to increase earlier diagnosis, educate patients and their families, and provide a viable forum for people affected by the disease. The mission of the foundation is to help those impacted by Parkinson's to live active and fulfilling lives.The foundation hosts an annual fundraiser, Shake It Till We Make It, to raise money to provide support and resources for all those affected by Parkinson's disease. Shake It Till We Make It is a two-day celebrity gala and golf tournament hosted in Portland, OR.

The Rest

4 Caron Butler 544.5

40 Udonis Haslem 495.0

45 Rasual Butler 182.0

35 Malik Allen 154.1

1 Loren Woods 113.3

22 John Wallace 81.0

52 Samaki Walker 77.6

15 Wang Zhizhi 24.2

12 Bimbo Coles 5.7

32 Tyrone Hill 5.4

24 Jerome Beasley 0.6

20 Kirk Penney -2.2