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ESPN raises Heat’s projected finish from 7th to 5th place after McGruder’s injury

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ESPN’s RPM formula expects Heat to win 45 instead of 43 games with Rodney McGruder’s missing time.

NBA: Preseason-Washington Wizards at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Barry Jackson writes that ESPN’s mysterious formula predicts the Miami Heat will win 45 games instead of 43, as higher rated players take Rodney McGruder’s minutes.

“Meanwhile, ESPN’s complicated real/plus formula projects the Heat to win 45 games and finish fifth in the East, ahead of Toronto.”

In August ESPN forecast the Heat would win 43 games. Now they raised that to 45 with McGruder out.

“While the loss of Rodney McGruder to a stress fracture hurts Miami's depth, it means more minutes for players projected better by RPM (primarily Josh Richardson) and allowed the Heat to jump from seventh in average wins to fifth. Because all three teams are so close, that difference isn't especially meaningful, but the divergence from how CARM-Elo projects Miami (40 wins on average, eighth in the East) is.”

Harsh comments from ESPN, which disregard McGruder’s importance to Miami’s “Heat Culture.” His contributions cannot be measured by numbers alone. However their RPM numbers clearly favor Richardson and certain others as contributing more to wins.

Their key to winning games is simple: give highly-rated players the maximum minutes possible. In the real world that may not be possible, but in fantasy basketball players don’t get tired or injured.

The ESPN model for success suggests a very small rotation of players, maybe 8 at the most, with almost no minutes for the end of the bench. Interesting how their computer formula gives Miami two more wins to put it in fifth place, simply by increasing the workload on the top players.