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

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.

RAY FELTON, Knicks — Around the time he was leading the Bobcats to their first-ever playoff appearance, Felton was still so underrated that Charlotte beat writers were wondering if he should have been traded for T.J. Ford. Today, how do you think Donnie Walsh would react if Larry Bird called him offering Ford to the Knicks for Felton?

Midway through his breakout pro season, Felton is averaging 18.2 points and 8.7 assists and has the Knicks in the playoff picture. He has formed the League’s most explosive point guard/big man tandem with Amar’e Stoudemire, quieting almost all talk of how he was such a severe downgrade from Steve Nash. The Knicks are built just like the Suns during Nash’s MVP heyday, and Felton is playing like a man who deserves some awards of his own.

CARLOS BOOZER, Bulls — As I wrote in Smack this morning, the Bulls have established their identity since Boozer’s late arrival: Two and a half men carry the offense, everybody contributes on defense. As the legit low-post scorer Chicago has been missing for years, Boozer is putting up 20.6 points (55.9% FG) and 10.1 boards with his new team. His jump shot makes the pick-and-pop work, his ability to finish with either hand makes the pick-and-roll work, and his face-up and back-to-the-basket repertoire gives the Bulls multiple options inside. Boozer also creates his own points with offensive rebounds.

And while he’s not the greatest defender, Boozer at least communicates — part of what made Kevin Garnett a Defensive Player of the Year working with Tom Thibodeau — and he can depend on guys like Taj Gibson, Kurt Thomas and Joakim Noah (when he gets healthy) to make up for his defensive deficiencies.

MONTA ELLIS, Warriors — He scores, he runs, he defends when he has to, and he never gets tired. Monta was made for this Golden State team. You have to be something of an iron man to be the leader in G-State, and Monta is on pace to lead the NBA in minutes played for the second straight season, turning in efforts Tony Starks would admire.

In an offense that relies on explosive and versatile athletes, Monta is averaging 25.2 points and 5.6 assists while splitting time between two-guard and point guard. His small stature for a two is nullified because (1) he’s fearless, and (2) the Warriors make the game horizontal rather than vertical. Monta could get buckets for any team in the League, but with G-State he can challenge for the NBA scoring crown every year.