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Of all of the Heat's additions, Antoine Walker's ability to mesh with his teammates will go the farthest in determing Miami's fate.
Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images
When the Miami Heat completed the biggest trade in NBA history over the summer, a five-team blockbuster that brought guard Jason Williams and forwards James Posey and Antoine Walker to Miami, many experts wondered how the 2005-06 Heat would be able to share just one basketball. What they should be wondering is how they will share possessions.
While it's undeniably true that only one of the Heat's players can handle the ball at any given time, the more important concern is that only one can shoot it, get to the free-throw line or turn it over per Miami possession. That may prove to be a problem this season for the Heat.
It goes almost without saying that the best players in the NBA tend to use the most possessions. If we define possessions as FGA (field-goal attempts) + .44 *FTA (free-throw attempts; the multiplier being .44 instead of .5 because two free throws do not always make up a possession in the case of three-shot fouls and three-point play opportunities) + TO (turnovers) for both individuals and teams, we can estimate what percentage of their team's possessions each player used while on the court last season.
The top ten in the NBA in this category last season reads like a Who's Who of the NBA's top players (along with a rising star from Chicago):
2004-05 Possession Leaders
Allen Iverson has traditionally used more possessions than anyone else in the league, but with Jermaine O'Neal trying to carry an injury-plagued Pacers team last year, he replaced Iverson at the top of the league. Excluding Iverson and Chris Webber (whose possession usage went way down after his trade to Philadelphia), Heat teammates Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade were the only teammates to rank in the NBA's top ten last season.
Predictably, that didn't leave many possessions to go around for their teammates. Naturally, for a team, possession usage averages out to 20 percent per player. If you add up the combined possession percentages of a team's starters, they're typically a little higher, because starters usually use more than reserves. Most starting fives end up between 100 percent and 110 percent combined; the Heat, thanks to several non-scoring reserves, was at 110 percent a year ago.