Yes, his NBA Finals record might not be the greatest of all time, but it is almost impossible for a basketball fan to deny the greatness of LeBron James. Many people might hate on the guy, say that he is not as good as he seems, but at the end of the day, you must agree that he is at least one of the top five players of all time. LeBron is a basketball playing machine, and while he might struggle from time to time and lose in the finals more often than not (as his haters love to remind his fans), this is a man who averages 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game in his career. Oh yeah, and he has been in the NBA for 15 seasons. Those are ridiculous numbers, numbers that some people might even say are unparalleled.
But sometimes, talent doesn’t always attract more talent to itself. To prove that point, we decided to make a little list to show you 20 of the worst players ever to win an NBA championship with LeBron James. Now bear in mind that we are not saying that all of these guys are scrubs who should not even have been in the NBA. They are just here for us to give you a little taste of what kind of talent LeBron had around him when he won his championships.
20 Juwan Howard
If you showed a picture of Juwan Howard to a young basketball fan today and asked him or her: who is that? The most probable answer will be an “I don’t know.” However, there might be a few young NBA fans might say they remember this guy celebrating with LeBron James when they won a championship in Miami back in the 2011-12 season.
And yes, Howard might not have had the stellar career many people thought he would have coming out of college, but he was a good player for most of his time in the NBA. The guy was an All-Star in his second season in the league when he averaged 22.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for the Washington Bullets. Not to mention he was a member of the legendary Fab Five of the University of Michigan.
19 Jarvis Varnado
Now, after we got Juwan Howard out of the way, let’s talk about a teammate of LeBron’s that many people probably did not even have an idea was playing in Miami when the team won the 2012-13 season.
Jarvis Varnado was selected by the Miami Heat with the 41st overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. And while there are a bunch of stories of players who came from the second round and became stars in the NBA, Jarvis is not one of those guys. He only played two years in the league but was lucky enough to be a part of the Miami roster when they won the championship. Jarvis played a total of 37 games throughout his career and averaged 2.9 points per game. Jarvis also shot pretty well as he finished his career shooting better than 58 percent from the field.
18 Tyronn Lue (Coach)
Honestly, we could not go through with this list without throwing a little jab at our favorite NBA coach. Don’t get us wrong, we and everyone around the NBA should know that Tyronn Lue probably works very hard at his craft and is trying to become one of the premier coaches in the NBA. However, the appearance of what we see in Cleveland is very different from that realization.
The thing is that no one really knows if Ty Lue is a good coach or not because he has never really been a head coach in the NBA.
The players can say whatever they want, but everyone knows the person who runs that team is LeBron James. And King James is the reason why Lue has a championship on his resume. Now we can’t wait to see how Lue will fare as a coach after LeBron is gone.
17 Dexter Pittman
There are a lot of ways you can look at a player’s career and make a conclusion of whether they were lucky or not with what happened to them. Sure, there are a bunch of guys who have had healthy and long NBA careers but never won a championship. At the same time, some guys had incredibly short careers, but have a championship on their resume. Which would you rather have?
That is a very personal question, but the one thing we can say is that guys like Dexter Pittman probably don’t complain about the fact that they were a part of the 2011-12 Miami Heat roster that won the NBA championship. After all, they might not have played a lot, but at least they got to witness greatness.
16 Sasha Kaun
It is terrifying how many guys we can find in championship rosters who people probably never heard of. Let’s take Sasha Kaun as a perfect example. This guy is 32-years-old, and how many of you have heard of him?
Probably not a lot. However, one thing we are sure of is that many people should be jealous of Sasha.
He might have only played one year in the NBA, but it just happens to be that the one year he played with the Cleveland Cavaliers was the year LeBron James took them to the promised land and helped Cleveland snap a curse that lasted more than half a century. Just to give you a little bit more background, Sasha was drafted in 2008 by the Seattle Supersonics but only played that 2015-16 season with Cleveland.
15 Dahntay Jones
If you need an example of what a hard worker can accomplish with years of honing his craft and being a reliable part of a team, you need to look no further than Dahntay Jones. This guy was an NBA journeyman who helped a bunch of teams throughout his 13-year career in the NBA. Jones was never the number one player on a team.
His best statistical season was 2009-10 with the Indiana Pacers when he scored 10.2 points and grabbed three rebounds per game.
Either way, this was a guy who did not commit many mistakes and did his part on the defensive end of the court, which earned him a spot in Cleveland for the fated 2016 NBA title.
14 Jordan McRae
At 27 years old, it is very possible that Jordan McRae could make a return to the NBA and be of help to some team somewhere. But while his return is still in the realm of imagination, we should talk about how this guy managed to turn two years in the NBA into a championship. He is yet another lucky cat who ended up landing with the Cleveland Cavaliers when they won their title.
Unlike some of the other guys here, Jordan did play a bit a part in winning the championship as he played a couple of games in the playoffs and scored a total of nine points in four minutes.
Yeah, the guy went 4-4 from the field in his playoff career.
Before the NBA, he was also a reliable college player who averaged 18.7 points per game in his senior season with the University of Tennessee.
13 Timofey Mozgov
Here’s the thing. People who don’t follow the game of basketball too closely probably think that if someone is as tall as 7’1”, he is guaranteed to be a superstar in any basketball league. After all, even in the NBA, it is hard to find people who are over 7-feet-tall. However, people who follow the game of basketball will know that there were several 7-footers who have gone through the NBA and ended up being nothing but busts.
Timofey Mozgov is, unfortunately, another one of these guys. His best season in terms of statistics happened when he moved to Cleveland and averaged more than 10 points and almost 7 rebounds per game in 2014-15. It didn’t go much further than that, but still, the following year he got to be part of the championship squad.
12 Mario Chalmers
If there is one player in recent memory who could go head-to-head with Nick Young when it comes to confidence in terms of thinking you are a better player than you actually are, that guy must be Mario Chalmers. After hitting one of the most ridiculous shots in college basketball history, this guy immediately thought he would become the next great thing in the NBA. And even though he never averaged better than 11 points a game during his career, you still get fans making memes and sketches about how he thinks he was the main reason LeBron won two titles in Miami. Yeah, the Miami Heat championship teams did not have a big three. No, they had a big four. At least that is the answer you will get if you ask Mario Chalmers.
11 Eddy Curry
The NBA is filled with talents that go their entire careers without producing as much as people thought they would. Eddy Curry was one of those guys. The fourth overall pick in the 2001 Draft was supposed to bring the Chicago Bulls back to championship contending after the end of the Michael Jordan era. And despite having to deal with a bunch of injuries throughout his career, Curry was a solid player who averaged 12.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in his career. He even had one year in New York where he could have been selected an All-Star as he averaged 19.5 points and seven rebounds per outing.
Nevertheless, when he won a championship with the Miami Heat, Curry only played 14 games and averaged two points.
10 Terrel Harris
We have seen some occurrences in which players who are only okay during their college careers go on to become great players in the NBA. Terrel Harris is not an example of that.
This guy played four years at Oklahoma State University and his senior year was by far his best when he averaged 13.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game.
Those are not the kind of numbers you would expect from a first-round pick, and that might be why Harris went undrafted. He graduated college in 2009 but only played his first NBA game in the 2011-12 season. It just happens that the first team he played for was the Miami Heat championship team of that year. Some guys just seem to be lucky, don’t they?
9 Chris Andersen
This is where we start treading dangerous waters because there are some players who could be considered some of the worst who have won a championship with LeBron James but are still not bad players at all. A perfect example is the Birdman, Chris Andersen.
Chris is a guy who played in the NBA from the time he was 23 years old all the way until last season when he turned 38. Yeah, that is one respectable career, and he is a guy who always provided teams with what they needed and wanted for him, which was an athletic defensive presence in the paint. Miami recognized that and added this guy to the 2012-13 championship team. He played 42 games that season and averaged more than four rebounds and one block per game.
8 James Jones
This is about as interesting as entries on this list are going to get. Yes, the guy might not be the best player on the court, in fact, he probably never was the best player on the court throughout any point in his career.
A second-round pick from the Indiana Pacers in 2003, James Jones was one of those guys who had to work twice as hard as his neighbor in order to stay in the NBA.
But there is another fact about this three-point sniper that leads us to believe he is more important than most people give him credit for.
If you go back and check out every time LeBron James came out victorious in the NBA Finals, you will find James Jones sitting on the bench.
7 Mike Miller
Mike Miller had a long and productive NBA career where he focused mainly on scoring from outside rather than mixing it up inside. And for most of his career, that worked out as he played in Orlando and Memphis, while also winning Rookie of the Year honors in 2001. He even had a season in Memphis where he averaged 18.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game while also shooting better than 40 percent from the three-point line. More than that, he shot better than 40 percent from three-point range throughout his entire career. That is impressive, but he was still not as good as the majority of his teammates when he won a couple of championships with the Miami Heat. In his three seasons with Miami, Miller averaged a little more than five points and three rebounds per outing.
6 Joel Anthony
Joel Anthony is one of those guys you have to respect because of what they achieved, not only during their career but what they achieved by merely getting to the NBA. This is a guy who only played a couple of years in college after starting late. He was already 22 years old when he played his first season at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
He went undrafted and was signed as a free agent by the Miami Heat in 2007. Nevertheless, this is a guy who persevered and managed to stay in the NBA for a decade despite being a subpar scorer. He was one of those effort guys who gave you everything he had on the defensive end of the floor, and that was rewarded with a couple of NBA championships.
5 Norris Cole
The NBA has a long history of creating a particular brand of point guards who shoot very well for a short period of time and are able to “confuse” the rest of the league by making themselves seem like better players than they actually are. That was the case when Norris Cole arrived to play for the Miami Heat in 2011-12. Sure, the guy was a rookie picked late in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft, but he proved to be a good option for Miami coming off the bench.
He was good enough that he became part of both Miami championship squads in the LeBron era.
The problem was that after the LeBron era in Miami was over, so was the magic of Cole. He was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans and even signed a $3 million contract with them, but his career in the NBA was basically over.
4 Ronny Turiaf
If you want a big who knows how to shoot a three-pointer and space the floor, you should look elsewhere. But if you are looking for a guy who can bang shoulders in the paint with the best of them and still come up with a clutch rebound, you have found your guy. Ronny Turiaf was someone who did his job almost to a fault when he was in the NBA, but when it comes to skill he was still a subpar player to put it lightly. He could periodically hit a midrange jumper, but he was the kind of guy who proved his value mainly on the defensive end.
Either way, he has an NBA championship on his resume that he got thanks for playing with LeBron in Miami despite the fact he only played 13 games in 2011-12.
3 Iman Shumpert
There was a time when fans and analysts alike thought that Iman Shumpert would grow to become the ultimate two-way player in the NBA. He was a guy who could defend very well and, especially in his rookie year with the New York Knicks, he was superb helping out his team with tenacity on the offensive end as well as good shooting from time to time.
Unfortunately for Shumpert, the recognition didn’t last for too long, and he ultimately got a bench role with the Cleveland Cavaliers after the Knicks traded him and J.R. Smith for scraps. He was not one of the best guards LeBron James played with, but he is one of those lucky guys who got to win a championship and also lucked out with a four-year $40 million contract.
2 Tristan Thompson
The last two players on our list are guys who can go from hero to villain in a matter of seconds. Tristan Thompson is undoubtedly one of the most talented centers we have seen in recent years. He played his entire career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and since he was drafted in 2011, he has been a force for them inside the paint. The guy has career averages of nine points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Yeah, there are better centers in the NBA, but when you consider that he is 6’9”, those are solid numbers.
Nevertheless, Tristan is a guy who sometimes might seem more interested in what is happening outside of the basketball court than on how well he’s playing on it. We need to look no further than the whole Kardashian debacle the Cavs had to endure this entire season.
1 J.R. Smith
Now if there is one guy who has played with LeBron James and won a championship with him, but no one knows what to think of him, that guy is J.R. Smith. There are days in which Smith looks like the second coming of Michael Jordan. The man can ball when he wants. There were times during his career when people thought he could become the NBA scoring leader for the sheer fact that he shoots the ball like few others can.
When it comes to confidence in his shot, some can claim that not even Steph Curry is on his level.
J.R. thinks that every shot he puts up, no matter how bad it is, is going to go in. While that could be good on some occasions, Cleveland fans have found out that this could be more irritating than anything when the ball isn’t falling.