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Advanced Stats Analysis: Josh McRoberts' Value with the Heat

Marc Roberts

Marc Roberts

Marc F Roberts writes about fantasy basketball for RotoWire. He has won no fantasy awards, but his mom thinks his writing is "fantastic". Hubie Brown is a national treasure.

Josh McRoberts has agreed to terms with the Miami Heat according to ESPN's Marc Stein. McRoberts' fantasy value came from unusual categories for a big man last season. Check out his 2013-14 stats, when he ranked as the 124th best fantasy player:

2013-2014 Stats

MIN

FGA

FG%

FTA

FT%

3PM

REB

AST

STL

BLK

PTS

Auction Value

Fantasy Rank

McRoberts

30.3

7.3

44%

1.1

73%

1.3

4.8

4.3

0.7

0.6

8.5

$1

124


McRoberts performed poorly in the points category (8.5 ppg), but was far enough above replacement level in assists (4.3 apg) and three-pointers (1.3 3PM) that he provided value in 10-team leagues. This high level of production in assists and particularly in three-point shooting was unexpected for McRoberts. Below is a table with his per-100-possession averages for the past 5 seasons (courtesy of basketball-reference).

Per 100 Possessions

MIN

FGA

FG%

FTA

FT%

3PM

REB

AST

STL

BLK

PTS

09-10 (IND)

12.5

13.8

52.1%

3.6

50.0%

0.8

12.0

4.2

1.6

1.5

16.9

10-11 (IND)

22.2

12.2

54.7%

3.8

73.9%

0.7

12.1

4.8

1.5

1.8

16.9

11-12 (LAL)

14.4

8.7

47.5%

2.7

63.9%

0.2

12.6

3.8

1.1

1.3

10.2

12-13 (ORL/CHA)

22.2

12.1

45.5%

3.0

76.5%

0.8

11.4

5.0

1.1

0.9

14.1

13-14 (CHA)

30.3

12.5

43.6%

1.9

72.9%

2.3

8.2

7.3

1.3

1.0

14.5


Before last season, McRoberts had never averaged more than one made three-pointer per 100 possessions or more than five assists per 100 possessions. Last season, he averaged 2.3 made three-pointers and 7.3 assists per 100 possessions. This adjustment to his style of play also seems to have also affected his rebounding (8.2 per 100 possessions, down from the 11-13 rpg range he was in from 2009-13) and field goal percentage (career low 43.6% last season) negatively.

Still, his new style of play is likely what kept him on the floor for so many minutes in Charlotte and what made him appealing to Miami. McRoberts should fit in nicely with Miami's pass-and-shoot system (think Chris Bosh). Let's take a look at how this move to the Heat will affect McRoberts' fantasy value next season.

Pace Impact

Last season. McRoberts played with the Bobcats (now Hornets) who ranked near the bottom of the league in pace at 92.4 possessions per game (per basketball-reference). However, a move to Miami won't do his fantasy value any favors. Despite the common misperception that the Heat are a fast, athletic team, Miami actually played at one of the slowest paces in the league last season, 91.2 possessions per game. That trend has been consistent over Erik Spoelstra's career in Miami.

For a player like McRoberts, who averages 30.3 minutes per game, the difference between a pace of 92.4 possessions per game and 91.2 possessions per game is worth about 0.75 possessions per game, which will have very little impact on his fantasy value.

Playing Time Impact

McRoberts averaged a career high of 30.3 minutes per game last season. That number certainly seems achievable again, considering the lack of depth in Miami. In fact, if the plan is to start McRoberts along side of Bosh and LeBron (if those two are still with the Heat next season) at center, he could average even more minutes per game. Take a look at the minutes played by other starting centers in the Eastern Conference last season (minimum 55 starts, per basketball-reference):

Player

Pos

Tm

G

GS

MPG

Joakim Noah

C

CHI

80

80

35.3

Al Jefferson

C

CHA

73

73

35.0

Marcin Gortat

C

WAS

81

80

32.8

Andre Drummond

C

DET

81

81

32.3

Chris Bosh

C

MIA

79

79

32.0

Nikola Vucevic

C

ORL

57

57

31.8

Spencer Hawes

C

PHI/CLE

80

78

30.9

Tyson Chandler

C

NYK

55

55

30.2

Roy Hibbert

C

IND

81

81

29.7

Jonas Valanciunas

C

TOR

81

81

28.2


After reviewing this table, an increase in minutes to the 32 mpg range seems quite reasonable for McRoberts. This increase would improve McRoberts' fantasy ranking to 111th overall.

Projection For Next Season

If we combine McRoberts' previous NBA seasons on a per-100 possessions basis to develop his projected stats and then adjust that projection for Miami's pace and an average playing time of 32 minutes per game (a method I explain in detail here), we get the following projection for McRoberts next season: (Note: This calculation relies more heavily on McRoberts' most previous season in an effort to adjust to his perceived change in style of play):

2014-15 Projection

MIN

FGA

FG%

FTA

FT%

3PM

REB

AST

STL

BLK

PTS

Auction Value

Fantasy Rank

McRoberts

32.0

7.6

45%

1.3

71%

1.1

5.6

4.0

0.8

0.7

8.9

$1

111


My projection for McRoberts has him ranked as the 111th best fantasy player, up from 124th last season. His value still predominantly projects to come from the three-pointer made (1.1 3PM) and assist (4.0 apg) categories. My projection also boosts his value slightly in rebounds per game (5.6 rpg vs. 4.8 rpg last season). In 10-team leagues, McRoberts could be a sneaky source of assists and three-point shooting at the end of drafts if you can manage his low scoring average.

Do you disagree with my projection for McRoberts? Would you like to know how he would rank at a different level of playing time or in a different fantasy league? Leave a comment below, or contact me on twitter @MarcFRoberts.