Bonus Links To The Present: December 22nd, 2009

December 22nd, 2009 by John Krolik

-Chris Broussard with an ESPN the Magazine Article (insider required to view online) on how Shaq and LeBron have been working together in Cleveland. I’m not really on board with Broussard’s overall thesis, but some of the points are solid. Read and decide for yourself, but my two cents would be that Shaq’s ineffectiveness in his own scoring game has been a bigger issue than his play clogging up the lane for LeBron. Also, the Cavs play worse than their opponents when Shaq is on the floor; the only other player in the Cavs rotation who that’s true for is JJ Hickson.

-In fact, both of the Cavs’ two most-played lineups, Mo/Parker/James/Hickson/Shaq and Mo/Parker/James/Varejao/Shaq, have been outplayed by their opponents overall, logging a -12 mark in 265.5 minutes so far.

Here are the overall combined +/- scores for the two most-played lineups of every other team in the top five of their conference right now (data courtesy of 82games.com, and last updated December 12th):

Boston: +195 in 582.8 minutes

LA Lakers: +95 in 421.1 minutes

Atlanta: +179 in 456.2 minutes

Dallas: +127 in 203.1 minutes

Denver: +81 in 368.2 minutes

Phoenix: +72 in 496.5 minutes

Orlando: +84 in 259.6 minutes

San Antonio: +33 in 178.8 minutes

The bottom line: of all the teams that could conceivably be called contenders, the Cavs are the only team winning in spite of their most-played lineups, including their starting lineup. They are much less dependent on their starting five than most other contenders, by matter of necessity, which could be seen as them having more depth and versatility come playoff time, I suppose.

Meanwhile, last year’s playoff starting lineup has the best +/- mark of any five-man unit on the team with a +24 mark, and has played together for all of 27 minutes. It’s a small sample size, and they’re playing against bench players more often than not, but that unit’s had success, and it’s not like playing them together would be the most radical idea on the planet.

-Via numbersdont.com, here are some nifty pie charts on who LeBron James’ assists have gone to this season and who’s assisted LeBron the most.

What stands out to me is that LeBron’s most frequent assist target has been Anthony Parker, who’s scored off a LeBron feed 45 times this season; a good reason for him to stay in the starting lineup, perhaps.

Shaq’s also been the target of very few LeBron assists; the only rotation players who have converted less LeBron feeds are Boobie, Delonte, and Darnell Jackson.

On the other end of things, Mo has nearly half of the assists to LeBron, with Anthony Parker and Delonte being the only other players to feed LeBron 1o times or more. Shaq has five assists to LeBron so far this season.

Finally, via Peter Vecsey in the New York Post, Wade sees himself as a future teammate of LeBron’s. Be interesting to see if one of them takes the pay cut to actually go through with the move; I’ll believe it when it happens, personally.