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Thursday, March 24, 2011
Getting a visual on the Heat

By Tom Haberstroh

If you're like me, you like graphs.

If you're like me, you love graphs about basketball.

So when Couper Moorhead of Heat.com published spider charts for every Heat player over at the team's official site, you know that I stuck around for quite awhile. Spider charts are a pretty spiffy way to present data and they offer ways to envision players as "types" or "shapes" even. I've actually dabbled in spider charts before at the TrueHoop network's Hardwood Paroxysm last season, looking at the shot selection of traded players. In baseball's sabermetric circles, we've seen spider charts for players for years now (glove slap to Beyond the Boxscore).

So what do we learn from Moorhead's spider charts?

From a play type perspective, Mike Miller isn't all that different from Eddie House, James Jones, and Mike Bibby. When Miller was signed this summer to the 5-year, $29 million contract, he was supposed to bring something more than just spot-up shooting. He is James Jones -- but with handle, vision, and actually ventures in the paint. That's why he made the big bucks.

But while that's all well and good in theory, his scoring doesn't really look all that different from the other 3-point specialists. Miller has flashed his versatile game at times this season (seriously, remember when he dropped 32 points back in January?) but mostly, he just knocks down threes. In spider chart form, Miller and House are virtually indistinguishable as scorers. One makes around $6 million annually and the other is on a veteran minimum contract.

Also identical? Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Erick Dampier and Joel Anthony.

Of course, these charts only look on one side of the ball and there are certainly components that are not represented here (defense, rebounding, effort, etc). But it's definitely worth some time if you want a fresh look at the Heat roster.

If you want some more graphical goodness, Moorhead has more for you. Check out today's post with interactive charts that is basically a Heat game log in graphical form. Note how impressive the offense has been recently (with exception to the Thunder dud).