Big Four: Carmelo Anthony Heat Simulation From WhatIfSports.com image

Big Four? What if Carmelo joined the Heat...

We simulate the Miami Heat with the addition of Carmelo Anthony

WhatIfSports.com
June 12, 2014

The Miami Heat are currently battling the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, but talk has already turned to the team's next rendition. One of the biggest prizes of the upcoming offseason is Carmelo Anthony, who could become a free agent if he chooses to opt out of the final year of his contract with the New York Knicks. Should that transpire, the Heat could make a run for Anthony's services, all while keeping their core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh intact. (Cut to the collective groan of every NBA fan outside of South Florida.)

When James and Bosh teamed with Wade in the summer of 2010, the gathering of talent seemed nearly impossible with modern salary-cap limitations. But the three signed for less than max contracts, enabling the trio to come together and reach four straight NBA Finals. Four years later, adding another superstar to the mix is again a head-scratcher that would require each player settling for less than max value. With the amount of money James, Wade, Bosh and Anthony would have to forgo in order to play together, it's easy to dismiss Anthony as an unlikely addition to the Heat roster. However, the appeal of playing together - and winning championships - may be enough to entice the foursome to accept pay cuts.

James, Wade, Bosh and Anthony are very familiar with each other, all having entered the league in 2003. (James was taken first overall in the '03 Draft, followed by Darko Milicic second, then Anthony, Bosh and Wade rounding out the top five.) They've played in numerous All-Star games as teammates and opponents, with James, Wade and Anthony all starting for the East the past three seasons.

As members of the 2008 Olympic squad, the four teamed to capture a gold medal. James and Anthony played on the gold medal-winning 2012 team as well, often sharing the court together despite both playing small forward.

Should the "Big Four" come to fruition, what does it mean for the Heat's title chances? We turned to our NBA simulation engine and our Dream Team tool to find out. We added Anthony to the Heat's 2013-14 roster and simulated 1,001 games pitting the Heat's potential roster for next season against their current roster. Check out how each team fared:

Big Four vs. 2013-14 Miami Heat
MatchupWin%Avg. PPGWIS Interactive
Big Four57.6109.6Simulate Matchup
2013-14 Miami Heat42.4107.5Build your own Dream Team

The addition of Anthony equated to a 7.6 percent advantage for the new-look Heat. The Big Four averaged two more points per game than the current roster. In the simulation, we used a starting lineup of Mario Chalmers, Wade, Anthony, James and Bosh, with James starting at power forward and spelling Anthony at small forward as well.

How does the Big Four compare to the current Heat against a common opponent? For this simulation, we selected the 2013-14 Spurs as the opponent. In our 2014 NBA Finals prediction, the Heat won 50.7 percent of the time, outscoring the Spurs by an average score of 104.6-103.7. Here's how Anthony, James and company stack up to the Spurs:

Big Four vs. 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs
MatchupWin%Avg. PPGWIS Interactive
Big Four57.5108.0Simulate Matchup
2013-14 San Antonio Spurs42.5105.2Build your own Dream Team

Again, our engine favors the Big Four over the Heat's current roster. With Anthony in the lineup, the Heat average 3.4 more points per game, but also surrender 1.5 additional points per game. Anthony improves the Heat's success rate by 6.8 percent.

There are certainly some obstacles standing between an Anthony-to-the-Heat union, most notably the players themselves and their willingness to play at less than market value. But in terms of the Heat's ability to continue their run of Finals appearances, our NBA simulation engine confirms what most suspected: it's in the best interest of Pat Riley and the rest of the Heat front office to make the Big Four dream a reality.

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Jake Westrich is the Digital Content Coordinator for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jwestrich@whatifsports.com.

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