Bosh was integral to Miami’s offense. He scored 1.05 points per possession by his own efforts and the team scored 1.05 overall with him on the court. That dropped to 1.03 when he was on the bench. He was at his best coming off the screen on the pick and roll, producing a 54.1 percent effective field goal percentage and scoring more than half the time.
Bosh can also score in isolation, using a variety of moves including jump shots form the perimeter (0.89 points per possession) and drives to the basket (1.3 points per possession on 57.1 percent shooting).
Udonis Haslem should initially get a bump in minutes with Bosh out. The 12-year veteran from Florida sees his usage percentage go from 7.8 to 16.3 percent when he doesn’t share the court with Bosh. However, as you would expect, he is not nearly as efficient on offense. He scores 0.93 points per possession overall and isn’t close to Bosh when it comes to hitting shots from beyond the three-point line.
There is a defensive gap, as well. Bosh allows 0.85 points per possession while Haslem yields 0.93. Opponents are also shooting 68.8 percent against Haslem in the restricted area, significantly more than Bosh (57.9 percent compared to a league average of 59.6 percent).
The Heat also recalled 6-foot-6 power forward Jarnell Stokes from their NBA Development League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Per Synergy Sports, Stokes ranks fourth among 135 D-league players with at least 200 possessions in points per possession (1.2), excelling in the low post (scoring 57.8 percent of the time) and coming off the screen (1.18 points per possession). Defensively, he is average, holding opponents to 40.8 percent shooting. However, the jump in competition from the D-league to the NBA will require tempering expectations.
There is another option, one that involves acquiring Dwight Howard from the Houston Rockets.
Howard is averaging 14.6 points and 12.0 rebounds per game for Houston, but doesn’t have the range Bosh does on the court. Actually, that’s an understatement — he rarely even ventures out beyond the paint. Just look at the difference in their shot charts:
And Howard’s skill set wouldn’t be an exact replacement for Bosh in Miami. Whereas Bosh likes to create his own shot and move around with the ball, Howard sets up camp in the low post, scoring on cuts to the basket and off offensive rebounds.
Defensively, Howard would be a huge upgrade: opponents are shooting 42.3 percent form the field and are only scoring 37.1 percent of the time against him.
But to get Howard, Miami would likely have to give up Hassan Whiteside, too, which further weakens the Heat’s ability to remain competitive.
Miami would already be without Bosh, who leads the team in ESPN’s Real Plus Minus (4.3), a player’s estimated on-court impact on team performance, measured in net point differential per 100 offensive and defensive possessions, adjusted for teammates and opponents. Howard is not as good (3.67 RPM), but still close to replacing Bosh’s value. Subtract Whiteside (1.51 RPM), and Miami might be worse off than if they just go with what they have in Bosh’s absence.