Millionaire Matchmaker: The NBA’s perfect player-team couplings

By: 01.11.11  •  4 Comments
LeBron James

LeBron James (photo. David Alvarez)

There was an interesting — if not all that surprising — statistic relayed by the Portland announcers during Sunday night’s Blazers/Heat game: Dwyane Wade is the NBA’s 2nd-leading scorer in fast break points among guards (I’d assume Monta Ellis is first), while LeBron James is No. 1 in fast break points among forwards. I’m not sure who leads the League in transition scoring for centers, but it’s probably not Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

This was before Wade dumped 34 points on Portland, and LeBron scored 44 while putting the overtime victory to bed. Although it took a few weeks for the new-look Heat to get their act together, in this current stretch where they’ve won 21 of their last 22 games, all the talk of Wade and LeBron being unable to play together and establish a style has been silenced. Miami’s two biggest stars are perfect for the team’s style: Turnovers on defense lead to transition offense, while in the halfcourt sets, Wade and LeBron take turns dominating the ball in a high-screen heavy playbook.

They aren’t the only two players who benefit because their skill set blends seamlessly with their team’s system. Here are five more:

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ANDRE MILLER, Trail Blazers — Although Brandon Roy reportedly doesn’t like the ways in which he’s had to change his game (read: less touches) since Miller became Portland’s point guard, B-Roy’s prolonged absences this season have only confirmed why he and Miller should work seamlessly within the Blazers’ system. In recent losses to Dallas and Miami, Portland was able to effectively slow the pace for stretches and stay competitive, but they couldn’t finish in crunch time because they didn’t have a go-to scorer on the perimeter, i.e. Roy.

If Roy wants to push the pace, it’s not going to happen in Portland, at least not while Nate McMillan is around. When the Blazers traded Sebastian Telfair following McMillan’s first season with the team, it was in part because the coach was opting for a slower system geared around Zach Randolph that didn’t fit Telfair’s game. Miller, with his veteran savvy, patient style, timely playmaking, and ability to get grimy in the post with opposing PG’s, is the right floor general for such a system.

HEDO TURKOGLU, Magic — You can’t be mad at Hedo for taking the money and leaving a good situation in Orlando to move to Toronto, but from a basketball standpoint, he was never as good a fit with the Raptors (or Suns) as he is with the Magic. In Stan Van Gundy‘s “spread” offense (spreading the floor with shooters), Hedo is a 6-10 small forward with point guard skills, a shooting guard’s touch, and enough strength to play power forward in a pinch. He was the primary playmaker during Orlando’s run to the 2009 NBA Finals, and even with Jameer Nelson on the court now, is still the guy you’d most want controlling the ball in the fourth quarter of a close game.

Since returning to Orlando, Hedo is averaging 12.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists while hitting 40 percent of his threes. In his re-debut he put up 9 points and 8 assists. Against the Mavericks last Saturday he dropped 17 dimes, a few games after posting a triple-double (10 pts, 14 rebs, 10 asts) against Golden State.

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