Team Bonding

By Darryl Howerton #21

When perusing our SUPERGLOOO top 50 leaders, it is interesting to how top individuals often can be correlated into the NBA’s top teammate tandems, time and time again.

In fact, we can gleam a good idea of the NBA’s top units simply by observing the SUPERGLOOO leaders list alone, before confirming top-tandem status by reviewing how these high-ranking teammates play as units.

For those just arriving to our new metric, SUPERGLOOO is our formula of combining PER (Player Efficiency Rating) with OOO (On-Off and On plus-minus ratings), which has become our way of evaluating superstars and glue guys alike.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL 26.39 35.40
2. James Harden, HOU 23.94 36.63
3. Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN 23.36 31.85
4. Russell Westbrook, OKC 22.68 31.43
5. Jimmy Butler, MIN 22.66 32.33
6. Anthony Davis, NOP 21.73 32.00
7. LeBron James, CLE 20.63 26.75
8. Victor Oladipo, IND 19.99 30.95
 9. Kemba Walker, CHA  19.09  27.08
10. Kevin Durant, GSW 18.75  30.28
11. Damian Lillard, POR 18.75  28.03
12. Stephen Curry, GSW 18.25  35.95
13. Bradley Beal, WAS 18.08  23.83
14. LaMarcus Aldridge, SAS 17.68  27.35
15. DeMar DeRozan, TOR  17.61  24.73
16. Jrue Holiday, NOP  17.06  22.30
17. Steven Adams, OKC  16.99  27.50
18. Joel Embiid, PHI  16.86  32.23
19. Kyrie Irving, BOS  16.84  27.85
20. Clint Capela, HOU  16.51  31.95
21. Chris Paul, HOU  15.84  34.80
22. Klay Thompson, GSW  15.67  22.43
23. Paul George, OKC  15.60  21.60
24. Khris Middleton, MIL  15.39  20.10
25. Ben Simmons, PHI  15.39  21.55
26. Nikola Jokic, DEN  15.38  26.78
27. Andre Drummond DET  15.38  22.90
 28. DeMarcus Cousins, NOP  15.16  23.88
 29. Lou Williams, LAC  14.69  22.03
 30. Otto Porter, WAS  14.47  23.43
 31. Kyle Lowry, TOR  14.31  22.58
 32. Gary Harris, DEN  14.16  20.93
 33. Al Horford, BOS  14.07  22.90
 34. Dwight Howard, CHA  14.01  21.70
 35. Tyreke Evans, MEM  13.49  24.38
 36. Eric Gordon, HOU  13.37  22.53
 37. CJ McCollum, POR  12.78  17.32
 38. Jayson Tatum, BOS  12.76  19.88
 39. Kristaps Porzingis, NYK  12.46  22.73
 40. Andrew Wiggins, MIN  12.46  16.55
 41. Darren Collison, IND  12.37  21.88
 42. Blake Griffin, DET  12.33  23.90
 43. Jamal Murray, DEN  12.12  19.50
 44. Draymond Green, GSW  12.12  20.63
 45. Robert Covington, PHI  11.97  18.43
 46. Donovan Mitchell, UTA  11.79  18.58
 47. DeAndre Jordan, LAC  11.76  19.25
 48. Carmelo Anthony, OKC  11.48  17.93
 49. Spencer Dinwiddie. BKN  10.70  18.03
 50. Jonas Valanciunas, TOR  10.68  24.85

Players in Boldface are spotlighted in tandems feature; SG % denotes SUPERGLOOO meets playing-time percentage; denotes SUPERGLOOO per-48 minutes average.



What once held clout as the NBA’s most dangerous quintet—Golden State’s Death Lineup—has been replaced by Houston’s problematic five-man units featuring aforementioned SUPERGLOOO leaders James Harden (37 per-48 minute average), Clint Capela (31), Chris Paul (35) and Eric Gordon (23), along with various Rockets forwards Trevor Ariza (15), P.J. Tucker (15), Ryan Anderson (14), Luc Mbah a Moute (17) and center Nene (26). No matter how Coach Mike D’Antoni slices it, these Rockets keep rolling out winning combos, whether it is with their early-season favorite lineup when Paul was injured featuring the five Rockets who should clear The 5,000 Minute Rule at playoff time—Harden, Gordon, Ariza, Anderson and Capela—with a plus-102 in 214 minutes thus far … or the dynamic duo guard combo of Paul and Harden, alongside Mbah a Moute, Anderson and Capela scoring a +29.7 net rating per 100 possessions in 128 minutes. By keeping Paul and/or Harden and/or Gordon on the floor at all times with Capela or Nene, D’Antoni can now utilize devasting defensive matchups by likewise subbing in stalwart forwards such as Ariza, Mbah a Moute and/or Tucker if he wants to dial up the defense. If Coach MAD wants floor-spacing O, stretch 4 Anderson is at his disposal. No other 2017-18 team has consistently matched up with Houston’s best five, whoever they may be at any given time.

Houston’s SUPERGLOOO Playing-Time Percentage 5-Man Total: 78.34 … Harden 23.94; Capela 16.51; Paul 15.84; Gordon 13.37; Aria 8.68.


Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images


Golden State’s four perennial All-Stars Kevin Durant (30 SUPERGLOOO), Stephen Curry (36), Klay Thompson (22) and Draymond Green (21) still rank as the NBA’s top quartet, no matter the slippage to their once-feared Death Lineup, where Green plays small-ball center and sub Andre Iguodala serves as the fifth man (+15.6 net rating in 112 minutes in 2017-18; +23.9 in 224 minutes in 2016-17). Nowadays, the Warriors are just as likely to have as much success with any of their numerous pseudo-centers serving as the fifth Warrior to Golden State’s All-Star quartet, who as a four-man unit post a spectacular +13.6 net rating in 676 minutes. So whether it is Zaza Pachulia (25 SUPERGLOOO), JaVale McGee (22) or Kevon Looney (19), the Warriors are still posting +10.0 net ratings in 408 minutes, or +9.5 in 44, or +54.7 in 30, respectively. And that is not even factoring in top pseudo-centers David West (26) and Jordan Bell (30) who log most of their minutes with various Andre Iguodala-infused bench-and-starter combos. Indeed, rumors of Golden State’s dynastic demise are greatly exaggerated. As long as they can field their four-star quartet, it is going to take a monumental collaboration to knock these Warriors off their championship perch.

Golden State’s SUPERGLOOO Playing-Time Percentage 4-Man Total: 64.79 … Durant 18.75; Curry 18.25; Thompson 15.67; Green 12.12.


David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images


Giving Golden State’s quartet and Houston’s quintet a run for their money is the OKC trio of Russell Westbrook (31 SUPERGLOOO), Steven Adams (28) and Paul George (22), with Carmelo Anthony (18) providing fortitude as a fourth teammate, and sidelined-for-the-season Andre Roberson (17) providing historic narrative as a fifth. The Westbrook-Adams-George trio of guard, big and wing has a plus-221 in 1341 minutes, which translates into a +7.2 net rating. The beauty of this lineup allowed Coach Billy Donovan to play defensive stopper Roberson, when healthy, at the 2 slot, while Melo was able to play the stretch 4, his natural position. Now that Roberson is lost for the season, Donovan now finds himself going big with power forward Josh Huestis at the 4 (plus-30 in 39 minutes)—as Melo and George slide down to the 3 and 2—just as easily as playing traditional, with wings Jerami Grant, Alex Abrines or Terrance Ferguson playing the Roberson role of late for plus-minus scores of minus-4 in 50 minutes, plus-18 in 64 and minus-22 in 31 during the month of February.

Oklahoma City SUPERGLOOO Playing-Time Percentage 3-Man Total: 55.27 … Westbrook 22.68; Adams 16.99; George 15.60.


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Before Jimmy Butler went down last week with a season-ending meniscus injury, Butler (32) and Towns (32) were establishing themselves as the top NBA duo, if not on a per-minute basis, at least on a total minutes basis where Town and Butler logged 2213 and 2077 through three-fourths of the NBA season, far more than other dynamic-duo combos like Curry and Durant or Harden and Paul or Davis and Cousins. One only has to look at Tom Thibodeau’s heavy-handed, heavy-minutes lineups combinations to see Towns and Butler combos not only leading the two-man lineup charts (plus-353 in 1767 minutes), but also the three-man (with Taj Gibson), four-man (adding Andrew Wiggins) and five-man combinations (adding Jeff Teague). Those are sure to drop now with Butler’s absence, but the impact these two made in making Minnesota a West contender once again will not be soon forgotten.

Minnesota’s SUPERGLOOO Playing-Time Percentage 2-Man Total: 46.02 … Towns 23.36, Butler 22.66.


Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images


Unlike all the other MVP candidates, 23-year-old Giannis Antetokoumpo does not play with fellow All-Star or All-NBA peers. No, he is leading a team of youngsters on the fly and the growing pains are obvious to all. Still, young Giannis is posting stellar PER numbers (28.4), along with On (+4.9) and On-Off ratings (+16.0) all the while. Khris Middleton, who at age 26 now ranks 24th on the SUPERGLOOO playing-time percentage list, appears to be the next big help on the Bucks list of worthy star complements. But if Antetokounmpo wants to carry the Bucks farther than Towns takes the T-Wolves, Russ takes the Thunder and so on, he is going to need young players like Eric Bledsoe and Jabari Parker to reach their immense potential, sooner rather than later.



Perhaps the best-kept secret in the NBA is the Toronto Raptors super-efficient, super-synergetic supersubs that dominate second- and first-string units on a nightly basis. Imagine them as a baseball team: they would be a mixture of backup catchers, utiity infielders and platoon outfielders that all bat .300 and field with Gold-Glove acumen. Plus, with the exception of 30-year-old veteran wing C.J. Miles (18 SUPERGLOOO per-48 minute average), they are all young. The 22-year-old, future All-Star center Jakob Poeltl (24 SUPERGLOOO) just may be the best backup big in the game. The 24-year-old power forward Pascal Siakam (20) would be a good starter on any other NBA squad. The 25-year-old combo guard Delon Wright (27) is showing on an expanded-role basis what he had in his arsenal all along. The 24-year-old point guard Fred VanVleet (26) is bringing even more to Toronto’s backup units than stellar sixth men like Lou Williams and Cory Joseph did before him. Lest we forget center Lucas Nogueira and wing Norman Powell, two other long-time Raptors reserves, no matter who Toronto plays as backups, their five-man unit stats rank high up there with the best starting lineups in the league. Want proof? The Raptors starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, O.G. Anunoby, Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas ranks fourth in the NBA with a plus-150 in 648 minutes; the Raptors reserve unit of VanVleet, Wright, Miles, Siakam and Poeltl rank sixth in the NBA with a plus-118 in only 191 minutes, making them the only NBA team with a plus-100 score achieved in fewer than 200 minutes. Need more ammo? Here is the link to their league-leading +9.2 net rating among all bench units across the NBA.

Toronto’s SUPERGLOOO Playing-Time Percentage 7-Reserve Total: 64.79 … VanVleet 9.83; Wright 9.59; Poeltl 9.14; Siakam 8.24; Miles 5.72; Powell 1.92; Nogueira 1.62.