When the Miami Heat signed Chris “Birdman” Andersen in January, they were hoping for an extra body off the bench who could bring energy, rebounding and defense. Since joining the team, the veteran forward/center has given them much more than that.
Outside of LeBron James, Andersen was the Heat’s most important player on offense during various stretches of the regular and postseason. Andersen was the beneficiary of James’ creative passing, scoring mostly at the rim, mostly on dunks, adding vertical floor spacing to the Heat’s offense, drawing double and triple teams away from the perimeter, and forcing opposing defenses to pay the ultimate price for their help defense.
Outside of James, he was also the Heat’s most important player on defense at times. James has praised Birdman profusely in the past, comparing him to his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Anderson Varejao for his hustle and energy. He blocks shots, he’s versatile enough to check both frontcourt positions, and he rebounds the basketball.
The Heat repeated as champions because they have LeBron James. But they wouldn’t have been nearly as dominant as they were without the contributions of their many secondary players, guys who know their roles and do what they’re supposed to do. Birdman has shown that he can be as valuable to the team as anyone not named James, Wade or Bosh.
He was a wonderful addition for the Heat this past season. A perfect fit. The missing piece at a position of desperate need. But he’s also a soon-to-be 35-year-old, low-minute, high-energy reserve. How should the Heat value such a player? How much can they afford to pay?
Basic mathematics could provide the answers. Read more…