In general, pundits have been cautiously optimistic about how well Miami's roster might perform. But for the record, the stat geeks are all over it.
Haralabos Voulgaris put LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and nine scrubs into his database and it predicted 64 wins, with the caveat that's based on all three playing 82 games.
David Berri's model suggests those three would account for about 55 wins even before counting any impact from the rest of the roster, and he says he's inclined to pick the Heat to win the 2011 title. He makes an interesting point, though, which is that as much as Boston is the obvious comparison with three stars, he also suggest the Rockets with Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon. They were a bit older, but they lost in the Conference Finals.
Meanwhile, Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference calculates that statistical plus/minus suggests the Heat could win 68 games by filling the roster with scrubs.
But he points out that the performance of big three in Boston when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen first arrived was underestimated by every model except one: adjusted plus/minus. And what does that model say about the Heat? Paine writes:
If the big three play like they did last year, the Heat's differential would be a monstrous, Redeem Teamesque +21.2, which I can't even give a wins estimate for because it breaks the linear equation that relates efficiency differential to winning % (it would have them winning more than 100% of their games). No team has ever had that kind of performance in the history if the NBA, meaning there is a pretty decent chance they'd obliterate the '96 Bulls' record for most wins in a season.
Wayne Winston is one of the high priests of adjusted plus/minus, and he calculates a range of possible win totals for the Heat, but his best guess is a 63-win team, which he says would be expected to take the Lakers to seven games in the Finals. I'm sure the NBA would settle for that.
One thing I can't help but wonder about. If those three players were determined to unite in the name of wins, and money wasn't an issue ... can somebody please run these numbers with Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson in the lineup?