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Five Stars: 2005-06

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The 2006 World Champion Miami Heat

NBA Finals Game 3: Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Miami’s 18th NBA season would culminate in the first Heat Championship. After posting a 52-30 regular season record, they wound their way through the postseason with a six game series win against the Chicago Bulls, a five game win over the New Jersey Nets, a six game win against the Detroit Pistons, and a six-game victory over Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.

First Star

Dwyane Wade 2125.2

Wade was far and away the best player on the 2005-06 Heat, leading the team with 2,892 minutes played, an NBA-eighth 2,040 points, 503 assists, and an NBA-seventh 146 steals. He ranked third on the team with 58 blocks and with 430 rebounds.

Wade started in each of his 75 appearances, putting up per-game statistics in line with his cumulative stats, leading the team by nearly seven minutes per game with 38.6 minutes on the floor, by over seven points with an NBA-fifth 27.2 points per game, by nearly two assists with 6.7 helpers, and by one complete steal, at an NBA-sixth 1.9. His 5.7 boards were third on the team. He shot .495 from the field, making 699-of-1413 shots and 13-of-76 from outside (.171). He also was successful on 629-of-803 free throws (.783).

Wade set new career-highs with team bests in advanced stats as well, putting up an NBA-fourth best 27.6 PER, an NBA-fifth 32.5% usage rate, an NBA-eighth 14.4 Win Shares, and a staggering NBA-third best 7.0 VORP. That’s not even getting into what he did in the playoffs. He made the All-NBA second team, and earned the NBA Finals MVP.

Out of Wade’s 75 appearances, he scored in double figures 74 times, 20 or more 60 times, and topped 30 points 34 times. He had 16 double-doubles, two triple-doubles, and three times finished with five or more steals. And to think, he would earn a higher PER in three separate seasons after this one. On December 11th, in a 104-101 win over the Washington Wizards, he scored 41 points with 10 rebounds, eight assists and four steals. On March 10th, he hit 14-of-20 shots and two-of-four from outside for 42 points, with six boards, six assists and two steals as Miami lost to the Golden State Warriors, 111-106. On April Fools Day, in a 106-99 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he scored a season-high 44 points with nine assists, eight rebounds, and two steals.

The postseason would see Wade maintain his performance level, and earn 4.8 Win Shares in his 23 starts. He put up a 26.9 PER and 2.6 VORP, which is sick when you extrapolate that total over 82 games (9.3). He averaged 28.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 2.2 steals, and 1.1 blocks through the playoffs. He saved his best for the Finals. In Miami’s Game Three win over Dallas, he scored 42 points with 13 rebounds, two helpers and two steals as Miami earned their first win in the series, 98-96. In the series finale, on June 20th, Wade dropped in 36 with 10 rebounds, five dimes, four steals, and three rejections to take home Miami’s first ring.

Second Star

Shaquille O’Neal 1145.9

O’Neal missed significant time due to injury in 2005-06 as the Heat drove to the championship. He started 58 times at center, coming in off the bench once and playing a total of 1,806 minutes. Although that was only seventh on the team, he ranked second with 1,181 points, 541 rebounds, and 104 blocked shots, and fifth with 113 assists.

O’Neal’s average statistics were far better than his cumulative stats. His 20.0 points per game was second on the club, and he led Miami with 9.2 rebounds. He was second with 1.8 blocks, to the resurgent Alonzo Mourning, who averaged 2.7. On the advanced side of the house, he was second on the team with a 19.4 PER, a 2.1 VORP, and a 30.0% usage rate, and third with 6.2 Win Shares.

In spite of Shaq helping the Heat to their first championship, the 2005-06 season was the first season where he really started to show a noticable decline, although he was selected to his 13th All Star team and led the NBA with a .600 field goal percentage, hitting 480-of-800 from the field. His free throw shooting, always an adventure, was the highest in his three full seasons with the Heat, at .469 (221-for-471).

Shaq had 24 double-doubles through the season, and scored 20 or more points 31 times. On December 20th, he made 13-of-15 from the field for 28 points, with 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a 111-92 win over the Atlanta Hawks. He had his best game of the season on February 25th, when he made 15-of-16 shots from the field for 31 points, with nine rebounds, four rejections and four helpers in a victory over the Seattle SuperSonics, 115-106. On April 8th, in a 99-86 win over the Washington Wizards, he made 13-of-16 shots for 27 points, with 10 rebounds, four blocks, and three assists.

In the postseason, Shaq started all 23 games, and appeared in a team-third average of 33.0 minutes per game. He averaged 18.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.5 blocks with a team-second best 19.9 PER. On Miami’s way to the title, his best games were the first round 113-96 series finale win over the Chicago Bulls, when he scored 30 points with 20 rebounds, five helpers and two blocks on May 4th, then on June 2nd, in the Conference Finals series clinching 95-78 win over the Detroit Pistons, when he hit 12-of-14 shots for 28 points, with 16 rebounds and five blocks.

Third Star

Antoine Walker 819.1

Walker, a 6’8”, 224 lb. power forward from Chicago, Illinois, was born on August 12th, 1976. He played two seasons with the Kentucky Wildcats, scoring 11.7 points with 6.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 21.0 minutes per game, over 69 contests. The Boston Celtics chose him in the first round of the 1996 NBA Entry Draft, with the sixth selection off the board.

Walker made the All Star team three times while playing for Boston, playing in 552 games over eight seasons. He led the NBA in 2000-01 with 221 three-pointers made, and led the league in minutes the following season, with 3,406. He averaged 20.6 points with 8.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.5 steals during his time there. After a season with the Dallas Mavericks (82 games, 34.6 minutes, 14.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists), he split the 2004-05 campaign between the Atlanta Hawks (53 games, 40.2 minutes, 20.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals) and the Celtics. He came to the Heat during the 2005 offseason as part of the five team trade which also brought Andre Emmett, James Posey, Roberto Duenas, and Jason Williams to Miami.

Although technically on the decline (his 14.4 PER was the lowest of his career to that point), Walker scored 1,000 points to rank third on the Heat. Primarily a sixth-man during his time in Miami, he appeared in all 82 games (the only player to do so), starting 19 times at power forward. Walker also totaled a team-fourth 421 boards, a team-fourth 166 assists, 47 steals and a team-fourth 30 blocks.

Walker shot 391-for-898 (.435) overall for Miami, making 137-of-383 (.358) from outside and 81-of-129 (.628) from the foul line. He was fourth on the team with a 12.2 point scoring average, and also ranked fifth with 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He contributed 3.6 Win Shares, a 1.1 VORP, and a team-third 23.2% usage rate.

Walker had four double-doubles for Miami through the season, scoring in double figures 55 times, including nine times with 20 or more points. In the season opener on November 2nd, he led the Heat with 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting, making four-of-seven from outside and pitching in with 16 rebounds and four assists as the Heat dusted off the Memphis Grizzlies, 97-78. On November 18th, in a 106-96 win against the Philadelphia 76ers, he came off the bench for 30:30, making 11-of-13 shots for 26 points, with seven rebounds, two helpers, and two steals. By GameScore, his best effort of the season was on April 11th, when he led the Heat with a season high 32 points, with eight boards, five helpers, two steals and a block in a win over the Toronto Raptors, 106-97.

Check out this four part series focusing on Miami’s first Championship team.

In the postseason, Walker’s 10.6 PER was in line with most of the team, as only three players (Wade, O’Neal, and Alonzo Mourning) had “above average” ratings (15.0 or above). Walker had 13.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.0 steals in 37.5 minutes per game, starting in each of the 23 “extra” games. On May 16th, in Miami’s Game Five elimination of the New Jersey Nets, he played 45:25 and scored 23 points with seven boards, four assists and a pair of steals as the Heat defeated the Nets, 106-105.

Fourth Star

Udonis Haslem 806.9

Haslem earned his second straight Fourth Star in 2005-06, ranking second on the team with 2,491 minutes played. He made 300-of-591 shots (.508) from the field and 157-of-199 (.789) from the free throw line. Although he was sixth on the team with a 13.7 PER, his contributions amounted to a team-second 7.0 Win Shares, with a head-scratchingly low 14.1% usage rate (above only James Posey and Shandon Anderson) and a 1.3 VORP.

Haslem started in 80 of 81 games for the Heat, at either forward position. He played in a team-third 30.8 minutes per game, and averaged a team-fifth 9.3 points with a team-second 7.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists. He totaled 757 points with a team-leading 634 rebounds, 95 assists, a team-fifth 50 steals, and 17 blocked shots.

Haslem had 14 double-doubles through the season, with 36 games in double figures and 22 games with 10 or more rebounds. On November 9th, he scored 19 points on eight-of-11 shooting, with 11 rebounds and three steals in a 95-90 loss to the Indiana Pacers. By far, his best showing of the season was on April 14th, when he scored 24 points with 14 rebounds, five steals and two blocks in a 104-85 win against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Haslem’s 11.5 postseason PER was the fourth best on the team, tied with James Posey. He started 22 games and played 29.5 minutes average, with 8.6 points and 7.4 rebounds. His best postseason game was Miami’s Game Six 113-96 elimination of the Bulls, when he scored 17 with 14 rebounds and two blocks. In Miami’s Game Four, 102-92 win over the Nets on May 14th, he scored 20 points with 11 rebounds.

Fifth Star

Jason Williams 710.5

Williams, also known as “White Chocolate,” was a 6’1”, 190 lb. point guard from Belle, West Virginia. Born on November 18th, 1975, he played college basketball for Marshall University and later for the Florida Gators. He averaged 17.1 points and 6.7 assists over 20 games with the 1997-98 Gators. The Sacramento Kings chose him in the first round of the 1998 NBA Entry Draft with the seventh overall selection.

“J-Will” spent three seasons with the Kings, averaging 11.3 points, 6.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in 33.0 minutes average over 208 games. He then joined the Memphis Grizzlies for four seasons, playing in 284 games and averaging 30.7 minutes, 11.9 points, 7.2 helpers, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. He joined the Heat during the 2005 offseason as part of the aforementioned five-team, 15-player mega-deal.

Williams appeared in 59 games for the Heat, starting at point guard 56 times through the regular season. He had his best field goal and three-point shooting percentage to date in his first Miami season, making 268-of-606 (.442) overall and 107-of-288 (.372) from outside. He played 1,874 minutes and scored a Heat-fifth 728 points, ranking second with 287 assists, fourth with 53 steals, and also pitching in 139 boards and a grand total of five blocked shots.

Williams averaged a team-second 31.8 minutes per game, with a team-third 12.3 points, a team-second 4.9 assists, 2.4 rebounds, and a team-second 0.9 steals. His advanced stats were directly in the middle of the road, with a 15.0 PER to rank fourth on the team. He had an 18.5% usage rate, a team-fourth 4.8 Win Shares (tied with Alonzo Mourning), and a VORP of 1.2.

The Heat went 38-21 with Williams in the lineup, and 14-9 when he didn’t appear. He scored in double figures 37 times and scored 20 or more 11 times. On January 22nd, in a 119-99 win against the Sacramento Kings, he put up 19 points, making only four field goals but going 10-for-10 from the line, with 11 assists and three steals. On March 19th, he scored 21 with nine assists, six rebounds, and three steals in a 111-100 win against the by-now-faded New York Knicks.

Williams wasn’t very good in the postseason judging by his PER, which measured in at 10.9. He played just a tick under 30 minutes per game, scoring 9.3 points with 3.9 assists while starting all 23 games at point guard. His best game through the second season was on April 24th, in Miami’s Game Two 115-108 win over the Chicago Bulls, when Williams racked up 22 points with four assists, two steals and two rebounds.

The Rest

Gary Payton 589.8

Alonzo Mourning 548.3

James Posey 500.4

Jason Kapono 118.2

Derek Anderson 95.6

Wayne Simien 89.0

Michael Doleac 83.9

Shandon Anderson 80.9

Gerald Fitch 50.5

Dorell Wright 36.0

Matt Walsh -0.1

Earl Barron -1.8