The Heat's new likely starting five -- Williams, Wade, Posey, Udonis Haslem and O'Neal -- actually doesn't present a major problem in terms of having too many players looking to shoot. Williams is noted for his propensity to occasionally launch wild, off-balance shots, but overall he only used an average 20 percent of the Grizzlies' possessions in '04-05, while Posey used 16 percent. Combined, the group adds up to 113 percent, which isn't particularly worrisome.
The need for possessions to eventually even out is why recent championship teams have almost uniformly featured two or three stars and filled out their starting lineups with role players. (The 2003-04 Detroit Pistons, with a relatively balanced offense besides non-scorer Ben Wallace, are the exception in this regard.) The Jordan/Pippen Bulls, the Bryant/O'Neal Lakers and the Duncan/Ginobili/Parker Spurs have all gotten valuable contributions from players such as Ron Harper, Dennis Rodman, Derek Fisher and Bruce Bowen who are not big-time scorers but are efficient when they score or contribute on defense or off the glass.
In other words, Posey is arguably the key to the Heat's off-season acquisitions. His first season in Memphis sticks out from the rest of his career like Swingers for Jon Favreau, but he's better than his injury-plagued '04-05. Posey is a good enough perimeter shooter to keep his defender relatively honest, but where he'll really help the Heat is at the other end of the court, where he's a highly-regarded stopper on the perimeter, Miami's own version of Detroit's Tayshaun Prince and San Antonio's Bowen.
In '03-04, when he was healthy, Posey held opposing shooting guards to a 47.9 percent effective field-goal percentage (eFG adjusts for 3-pointers by counting them as 1.5 field goals) and small forwards to 47.1 percent, according to stats tracked by 82games.com. By comparison, small forwards shot an identical 47.1 percent eFG against then-Defensive Player of the Year Ron Artest. (In both cases, the numbers are slightly skewed by Artest and Posey matching up against the better perimeter scorer on the opposing team, but they are useful as a rough guide.)
Where Miami could be in trouble is when Walker (27 percent of his teams' possessions in '04-05, which put him in the NBA's top 25) checks into the game for either Posey or Haslem (15 percent of possessions). Depending upon which forward position Walker plays, the lineup would combine to add up to 123 percent or 124 percent. Naturally, when that lineup is in the game, they can only use 100 percent of possessions, meaning shots are going to have to be taken away from everyone in the lineup, including Wade and O'Neal, whom the Heat want shooting the ball -- particularly compared to the inefficient Walker, who is a career 41.5 percent shooter.
For a better understanding of how a Heat lineup with Wade, Walker and O'Neal would fair, let's take a look at some other teams that added high-possession users.
In the summer of 1996, the Houston Rockets traded Robert Horry (16.3 percent) and Sam Cassell (then a backup) to Phoenix for Charles Barkley (27.5 percent). With future Hall of Famers Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon also in the lineup, the Rockets had a similar possession overload. How did they resolve it?
1995-96 Rockets Starters
1996-97 Rockets Starters
(* ORTG is a very simple offensive rating -- points per 100 possessions, measured as defined above. This doesn't take into account passing ability as well as other offensive attributes that can't be tracked by screens, but gives a quick bottom-line assessment of how efficient a player is.)
The Rockets made two other changes, replacing Kenny Smith and Chucky Brown with Matt Maloney and Mario Elie. Both replacements used fewer possessions more efficiently, making them perfect for the Rockets. Barkley and Olajuwon also used fewer possessions than they had in the past, while Drexler was unaffected. The total offensive rating is weighted by each player's possession percentage, and the Rockets starting lineup became much better offensively thanks to Barkley. (Correspondingly, the team's offensive rating went from 12th in the league to 8th.)