We've been talking about Shaq's fit with Cleveland, particularly given tonight's game. Since Shaq and LeBron James are the two stars, I was wondering how Shaq's presence has altered LBJ's game. To do this, I looked at LBJ's stats with Shaq in and with Shaq out, and how his shot choice changed between last year and this year.
Lineups: In his ten most common lineups, James has played 121 minutes with Shaq, and 75.7 minutes without Shaq. With Shaq, LBJ is a +3, or +0.02 points per minute. Without Shaq, LBJ is +54, or +0.71 points per minute.
Ratings: With Shaq and LBJ both on the floor, Cleveland has an offensive rating of 0.98 and a defensive rating of 1.00. With just LBJ on the floor, the offensive rating goes to 1.23 and the defensive rating becomes an incredible 0.88.
Shot selection: Last year, 36% of James' shots were inside, with 27% close, 8% dunk, and 1% tip. This year, his inside rate has dropped to 32%, with 25% close, 7% dunk, and no tips.
Now, this is a small sample size of only about 200 minutes at the beginning of the season. However, it suggests Cleveland is having difficulty adjusting to Shaq. James appears to be getting crowded out of the paint by Shaq's presence, and he is taking less efficient jump shots. The Cavaliers need to figure out how the two can coexist in order to have the O'Neal experiment be a success.