NBA’s Best Three-Man Unit: Williams, West, and James

A few weeks in to the NBA season, we took a look at the top combinations within the Cleveland Cavaliers.  In my attempt to do that again, I found out something that may or may not be surprising to you all.

The top three-man combination (using the +/- system) belongs to LeBron James, Mo Williams and Delonte West.  Year to date, these three men have been on the floor for a total of 1,626 points, while allowing only 1,359.  For 746 minutes, over a 25 game period, these three men have a +/- differential of +267. 

For comparison purposes, the second-, third- and fourth-place units fall in at 247, 245 and 240 respectively.  Thus, the Cavalier trio have a full 20 points ahead of the next best (belonging to Orlando’s Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard) unit.  Breaking down the James/Williams/West unit, it is actually Delonte West that has provided more from a +/- standpoint than his backcourt peer.  LeBron James and West have a differential of +363, slotting them in as the top duo in the league.  Not far behind is James/Williams with a differential of +329.  The next highest two-man combination?  Bostons’s Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen with +277 – more than 50 points below LeBron and Mo.

As always with the +/- statistic, it does not always show the “best” players as opposed to those that simply happen to be on the floor while all of this scoring/defense is going on.  However, when it comes to the three Cavaliers that lead the pack, there is no denying the level at which they are producing.  Delonte West is scoring the highest point total of his career (12.3 ppg) while playing solid defense – just ask O.J. Mayo, Mo Williams has added some much-needed fire power to the offense with his 16 points per game and LeBron James is… well, LeBron James.

Of course, this statistic is nowhere near being a “leading indicator,” so what happens in the future remains to be seen.  But what it is showing for right now is that these three men have been the most successful trio in the NBA to this point and are a huge reason why this team has the best record in the league.

  • Humboldt

    I love these guys, especially when they’re out there together. Legitimate question: are West and Williams championship caliber players, or are they playing slightly over their heads right now? Both have underachieved a bit in the past but have been gamers in Cleveland. Just curious what people think.

  • To paraphrase in the form of Linda Richman:

    West and Williams: overacheivers, or finally reaching their potential?? Discuss.

    I think Delonte is showing what we saw at St Johns: When paired with another scoring PG, he’s a great compliment. Probably in a sort of comfort zone similar to when he was with Nelson, so he’s realizing his potential. Williams I’m not as sure about but I think it’s much the same.

  • @1 – Seems like they’re legit players when paired with a superstar. Think not quite Scottie Pippen, but Horace Grant-types with Jordan. (In terms of value, not in terms of skills.) They fill the roles they need to fill perfectly.

  • Humboldt

    well said by both of you – I think you’re right

  • mike

    delonte was at St. Joes – not St. John’s. but your point is a good one nevertheless.

    i dont think mo has underachieved in the past. the past few seasons when Michael Redd was out hurt, Mo carried the bucks. i remember one game against the cavs (without redd) where Mo basically beat us singlehandedly.

  • Glaumdawg

    @ Humbolt – I think they are. Williams numbers are down this year, so I don’t really think we can say he’s playing over his head. I think that on this team he doesn’t need to do as much as he used to. Post #2 makes a solid point about West. Needless to say, this trio creates nightmares for the opposition.

  • Glaumdawg

    Just a little more info to back up my claim on Wiliams.

    Wiliams’ ppg 07′-08′ 17.2 and apg of 6.3 vs. 15.7 and 3.9.

  • Gaa, St Joe’s! My uncle is a die-hard alum and would kill me for not knowing that one. He was super pumped when the Cavs had Dwayne Jones and West last year.

  • @ Ezzie – if they were like Ho Grant, they’d have sweet Rec Specs. Not even in the same ballpark in terms of sweetness, though the mini fro is awesome.

  • Great numbers, I love to see this. Just shows what LeBron can do with some athletic guards around him.

  • @ Glaumdawg – I agree that Williams is having a somewhat down year, but his production can be tied to his involvement within the offense. Last year for Milwaukee alongside Michael Redd he had a lot of opportunities in the offense, while it is kind of hard to get that many shots or balls thrown your way in an offense centered around LBJ. LeBron’s assists are up this year, and he is developing his game separately from Williams’ existence as a point guard.

  • Lars

    this is what happens when you post good things about cleveland players…

    although apparently it’s only a ‘non-displaced fracture’…

    this is why we can’t have nice things!

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  • Josh

    unreal…only in cleveland.