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Could Rodney McGruder’s injury help Heat?

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ESPN’s real plus-minus formula says that more minutes for Josh Richardson will lead to a better finish. Is it true?

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

When Rodney McGruder suffered a stress fracture last week, some Miami Heat fans were worried. McGruder routinely defended opposing teams’ best perimeter players. The 25-year-old who had bounced around summer league teams and overseas squads before finding a home in Miami finished just shy of the NBA’s All-Rookie team last year.

But could McGruder’s injury actually be a blessing in disguise for Miami?

According to ESPN’s real plus-minus formula, McGruder’s injury led the Heat to jump from a projected 42.3 wins to 45 wins, and from seventh to fifth in the East. Josh Richardson is a better player according to the formula, and McGruder’s injury means more minutes for Richardson.

Of course, we’ll have to see how this all plays out when the Heat’s season begins Wednesday. Will McGruder’s injury lead Spoelstra to turn to Justise Winslow, and how will he fare? Richardson had a bit of a letdown in an injury-plagued sophomore campaign. Is there any guarantee he can emerge as a true “3 and D” guy who can knock down 3-pointers and become a defensive irritant?

We’ll see what happens.