Can the “South Beach Boys” match the 1995-96 Bulls?

Last night I did a Win Chart analyzing the last truly monster team in NBA history, the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.  You can see how I assign credit for the team’s wins and losses to the individual Bulls by clicking here.

A key point to note when considering the Miami Heat’s chances of getting to 70 wins (some even have them projected for 80 wins!  I can’t get on board with that for several reasons that I can’t get into now) is that the 95-96 Bulls were the number one team in the NBA in both offense and defense that season.  Their opponent Marginal Win Score was 30.18, which was as stingy as the 2007-08 Boston Celtics.  I can’t see Miami getting to 70 wins without a very tough defense, but its possible they could produce one.  

But back to the 72 win Bulls.  As you might have guessed, Michael Jordan led the way for them in creating wins in what might have been his last gigantic season.  LeBron has produced one season exceeded Jordan’s 1995-96 campaign.  Jordan produced several of them.  LeBron still has more to prove before he can be placed on the level of His Airness. 

Surprisingly to some, though, Win Score and Marginal Win Score both take the position that on a per minute basis Dennis Rodman was the Bulls best win producer.  He did it with possession creation.  Basketball is the only sport where the value of possessions seems to go unrecognized, or at least underappreciated.  In football, every fan accepts the value of a fumble recovery, an interception, or the ability of a defense to “get off the field”.  In baseball, Earl Weaver famously commented that “A manager’s most precious commodity is his 27 outs.”  But in basketball the same cannot be said of the equivalent actions:  rebounding, stealing the ball, and maintaining possession of the ball.  

Rodman won a ton of games for the Bulls that season because he dominated the backboards, and in doing so he created multiple extra possessions for the Bulls, and limited the Bulls opponents offensive chances.

The third of the big three was Scottie Pippen, who turned in another big season.  He would have been a recognized superstar on any other team.  Bosh will probably play this role for the Miami Heat.

But after that the Bulls also had some other surprisingly productive players.  Toni Kukoc had a very good season.  Steve Kerr used his scoring effectiveness to put up some outstanding numbers as well.  And finally you had Ron Harper with his ball control, distribution, and defensive abilities.

The only area you could really call the Bulls deficient in was the center position.  The centers played decent defense but were not great statistical producers.  They were basically space eaters.  Former Piston James Edwards had one of the worst MWS48 seasons I’ve ever calculated.

But in general the point is, if the Miami Heat are to match the 95-96 Bulls and get to the 70 mark, they will need not only huge seasons from the “South Beach Boys” but they will also require a stingy defense and consistently productive performances from the rest of their starting cast.


10 Responses to “Can the “South Beach Boys” match the 1995-96 Bulls?”

  1. arturogalletti Says:

    Good post. I realize I need to work on the analysis a bit more but I do think with a top six of Chalmers,Wade,Lebron,Haslem,Bosh and Miller that 72 is in play. It will be a fascinating test case for our analysis as well as a wonderful thing to watch.

  2. brgulker Says:

    It would seem to me that Haslem and Mike Miller are two steps in the right direction!

    I gotta be honest, I’m probably more excited about watching the Heat this year (not that I’ll be rooting for them, just appreciating great basketball) than my Pistons. If they can make a few more savvy moves over the next 2 summers, watch out.

    • tywill33 Says:


      I’ve been ignoring your comments purely out of guilt and shame!!! I will get you that book! (the delay has to do with construction between my office and the post office and pure laziness). You’ve had some outstanding comments, though — its hard not to reply.

  3. Chicago Tim Says:

    brgulker — There will be no 2011 season.

    The irony of this free agent season is that it has hardened positions on both sides of the labor negotiations. The players are convinced that the owners have plenty of money if they are signing such big contracts. The owners, on the other hand, say that they must have a hard cap or they will be forced to sign huge contracts in order to remain competitive.

    Tt’s hard to side with anyone in a fight between millionaires and billionaires, where the only people certainly losing money are the taxpayers and consumers propping up the monopoly. And since Miami is fast becoming unfair competition (LeBron’s choice was fine, and I think they overpaid for Wade and Bosh, but Miller and Haslem turning down millions to join them really sucks the competition out of the league), I’m not even sure I care about the lockout any more. Although if they did put a hard cap into place, that might just harden Miami’s advantage.

    • tywill33 Says:

      Chicago Tim,

      You bum me out with your pretty solid analysis.

    • Leroy Smith Says:

      by what measure did they overpay wade? he produced 18 wins last year by D. Berri’s WoW. He is underpaid by league standards of $/wins. Only James, Kevin Durnant, and Rajon Rondo were more underpaid last year as far as “star quality players”. Bosh produced 12 wins last year, so he might be a little bit overpaid, but people like Rudy Gay are way more overpaid than Bosh. But I might be missing something, so please let me know.

  4. Carlos Boozer vs. Al Jefferson and other great stories from The Wages of Wins Network « The Wages of Wins Journal Says:

    […] Ty Willihnganz has offered a comparison of the 2010-11 Miami Heat and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. […]

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