LeBron James is a once-in-a-generation type of player. Ever since he was in high school, he was deemed the "chosen one" and he has lived up to those lofty expectations. Throughout his 16-year career, he has played with all types of players. During his first tenure with the Cavs, he played with such a mediocre team with “sidekicks” such as Larry Hughes and an over-the-hill Wally Szczerbiak. He eventually left Cleveland because he didn’t have the help he needed to win a championship. (Did you see that team he led to the Finals that got destroyed by the Spurs?) He arrived in Miami and won two rings with the help of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and Ray Allen. He decided to head back to the Cavs where had a sidekick in Kyrie Irving but also a bunch of guys that were along for the ride and wanted a shot at winning a championship, even willing to take a pay cut.
As of right now, he’s currently playing with the Lakers and trying to lead a young team to the Promised Land. Playing with someone as great as LeBron James gives players hope and the increased odds of reaching the pinnacle and obtaining that elusive ring. It gives some players the opportunity to improve their game by working with one of the greats to ever play this game, and others…well, they want the notoriety of playing with James and saying “Hey, we won a ring!”
20 Carried: Dexter Pittman
Dexter Pittman was a standout basketball player at the University of Texas. He was the 32nd overall pick in the draft, and while he probably wasn’t expected to do anything amazing, the fact you were drafted means you had to do something. In his two-plus seasons playing with Lebron, he was able to get an NBA championship during the 2011-2012 season but he didn’t accomplish must outside of that. He didn’t do much of anything playing with LeBron and did even less when he wasn’t playing with LeBron. He’s been in the G-League most of his career and is now out of the NBA.
19 Succeeded: Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade will probably go down as the third-best shooting guard of all-time, behind Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. A career 22-point-per-game scorer, there was a point in time where people were starting to debate if Wade, and not LeBron, was the best player from the 2003 draft class. His accolades speak for him. He's a 12-time All-Star, 2006 Finals MVP, and of course, a three-time NBA Champion. He did win two of those championships with LeBron, but he was the best player on the team in 2006. Even with the arrival of LeBron, Wade will be the best Heat basketball player of all-time.
18 Carried: Joel Anthony
Joel Anthony played four years with LeBron James and while the stats don’t pop out to the average person, he actually did the job he was put there to do, which guarded the paint. He wasn’t there to score, grab boards, or make the flashy SportsCenter-like passes. Instead, he just stood in the paint and helped LeBron win a championship. He did win two championships playing with LeBron but didn’t see much playing time during those playoffs. After LeBron left the Heat for the Cavs, he was pretty much relegated to the bench. Between 2013 and 2017, he played in only 120 out of a possible 328 games and started none.
17 Succeeded: Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh was seen as the third wheel on the Heat, but what people don’t understand was that he could perform at an All-NBA level. He was a 20-10 guy during his time with Toronto. During his last season with Toronto, he averaged 24.0 points and 10.8 rebounds for a pretty solid team. When he went to Miami, he agreed to take the ball less for the sake of the team. At the end of the day, Bosh was an All-NBA player, who by the way, went to the All-Star game 11 times, which is more than Hall of Famers Clyde Drexler, David Robinson, and Dominique Wilkins.
16 Carried: Norris Cole
When people saw Norris Cole play, they believed he was the solution to all the problems caused by Mario Chalmers, but in actuality, they did the same things. Playing with Lebron James made Norris Cole seem better than what he is because we never saw LeBron get at Cole the way we did with Chalmers. Like Joel Anthony and a few other guys, he was able to win two rings playing alongside LeBron. Not playing with LeBron exposed the flaws in his game, as he played his last game during the 2016-17 season for the Thunder.
15 Succeeded: Kevin Love
Kevin Love played an important part on the Cavaliers team as the stretch big who was able to hit threes and grab boards like no one’s business. These talents did not come out of the blue, Love has always done this. One of the best shooting big men of all-time, Love would routinely score 20 points and grab 10 boards. He also has a game in which he scored 30 and grabbed 30 rebounds, which is a very incredible feat in itself. His best season took place in 2011-12 in which he averaged 26.0 points and 13.3 rebounds. He’s a two-time All-NBA performer as well as a five-time All-Star.
14 Carried: Mario Chalmers
Mario Chalmers was the bad little brother of the Miami Heat. He was often seen making the wrong plays on offense, missing defensive assignments, or just making boneheaded plays. He had his moments while playing with the Heat and made his fair share of shots during LeBron’s tenure in Miami. Playing with LeBron made Chalmers look like a better player than he actually was. When his time teaming with James came to end, his career pretty much ended as well. He went to play for the Memphis Grizzlies and well, let’s just say things haven’t gone the way he expected them to.
13 Succeeded: Ray Allen
Ray Allen helped deliver LeBron his second NBA championship with one of the most clutch shots of all time. Before he joined the Cavs, Allen was way more than a shooter. Between 1999 and 2007, Allen was guaranteed to drop 20 a game on you and also had a level of explosiveness you wouldn’t expect from a shooter like him. His scoring took a hit when he joined the Celtics but that was all for the sake of the team and he ended up winning an NBA championship ring. He’s a 10-time All-Star and not to mention, he’s only the greatest pure shooter of all-time.
12 Carried: Timofey Mozgov
Timofey Mozgov, in my opinion, is only famous for the poster he was on when Blake Griffin decided he wanted to “5...4...3...2...1...takeoff” on his head. In the two seasons he played with LeBron, he won one championship after scoring a whopping 15 point, throughout the whole playoffs. He was one of the big bodies that were brought in to fill the paint and provide the needed toughness for the LeBron James-led Cavs. He had his best year during the 2014-2015 without LeBron in Denver, where he averaged a career-high 9.7 points a game before he was traded to the Cavs and averaged 10.6 points.
11 Succeeded: Kyrie Irving
The 2011 first overall pick, Kyrie Irving, has experienced some individual success without LeBron although the teams might not have been as good. He battled injuries throughout his first few years in the league but that did not stop him from making it to three All-Star games. He has the ability to get his own shot due to his crazy dribbling ability and can get to, and finish in the paint among the trees that roam there. He did win a ring while playing with LeBron and left to go play with Boston, hoping he could lead that team to a championship and do it without help from LeBron. We will see how that goes.
10 Carried: Sasha Pavlovic
Sasha Pavlovic did not have an eventful career no matter who he played with. When LeBron came into the league, he and Pavlovic instantly became a dynamic duo…okay, maybe not a duo, but they were teammates during LeBron’s first years in the league. The most help LeBron had during his first tenure with the Cavs were Larry Hughes and maybe Wally Szczerbiak, which meant that James literally carried this team as far as he could. He took probably the worst team ever to the NBA Finals but he couldn’t beat the Spurs and Pavlovic was no help, but he was along for the ride.
9 Succeeded: Derrick Rose
The Derrick Rose story, in my opinion, has to be one of the saddest stories in all of sports. Here is a basketball player who gave his all to a team and do a city and injuries derailed his career. He was the leader of a team that gave LeBron and the Heat all they could handle in the playoffs. His team was never able to overcome the Heat, but let’s not forget who this guy was in his prime. He was the youngest MVP in league history, Rookie of the Year and a three-time All-Star. His time with LeBron was brief but he did not need to ride the coattails of LeBron James.
8 Carried: AJ Price
AJ Price played with LeBron James during the 2014-2015 season and I bet a lot of people didn’t even notice. He played for three teams during the season, playing in only 26 games, 11 of those with the Cavs. He averaged a bucket a game (2.0) in those 11 contests, mostly during garbage time. The 2014-2015 Cavs presented a big challenge to the Golden State Warriors even with Kyrie Irving missing the majority of the series with injuries. Even without Irving, Price was still at the end of the bench and hadn’t played in a playoff game since 2012 with Indiana.
7 Succeeded: Richard Jefferson
Richard Jefferson played alongside LeBron in his later years in Cleveland and in his prime, he was a good scorer alongside Vince Carter and Jason Kidd. The New Jersey Nets were always in contention for an NBA Championship and even made it to the Finals in back-to-back years, with Jefferson being a big-time contributor to the team. Surprisingly,Jefferson had quite a few All-Star caliber years but when you’re in the same conference and play the same position as LeBron and Paul Pierce, it would be incredibly hard to break through. Don’t let that distract you from thinking Richard Jefferson could not hold his own with LeBron, because he definitely could.
6 Carried: Sebastian Telfair
Once upon a time, Sebastian Telfair was one of the best high school basketball players in the nation. The kid had game and his cousin was Stephon Marbury; what could go wrong? Simply put, Telfair could not make it in the NBA. He never had any success with the teams he played for. For a brief moment, he was united with LeBron James in Cleveland during the 2009-2010 season. He played in four games and averaged 9.8 points . That year, Lebron dragged the Cavs to the number one seed in the East, but eventually lost to the Celtics in the semis and Telfair was nowhere to be found but along for the ride.
5 Succeeded: Tyson Chandler
In an era where stretch-five big men are all the rage, Tyson Chandler has remained relevant and is still a valuable asset for one big reason – defense. He doesn’t have the best career averages, but his effect on a team cannot be measured with numbers. He was controlling the paint far before he decided to join forces with LeBron. He’s been Defensive Player of the Year, and he’s been on the All-Defensive team three times in his career. In this day and age when scoring is king, he was able to make an All-NBA team as well. Let’s not forget he was on the Mavericks team that beat the LeBron James-led Miami Heat for the 2011 NBA championship.
4 Carried: James Jones
James Jones might be the best shooter LeBron James has played with outside of Ray Allen and Kyle Korver. Like Joel Anthony, Jones had one job, and his was to knock down open threes. He’s also one of the guys that looked better because of the fact he played with LeBron James. He had two tenures with playing alongside James with the first stop being in Miami (two rings) and the second being with Cleveland (one ring). In 41 playoff games with LeBron James, Jones scored 66 points. Did he make his fair share of shots? He might have, but we don’t remember them at all.
3 Succeeded: Kyle Korver
Kyle Korver was a second-round draft pick due to the fact he was one of the best college shooters to come into the league in recent memory. He made one All-Star game in 2015, the season in which he helped the Atlanta Hawks win a team-record 60 games and get the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. In other words, Kyle Korver was getting buckets from deep way before he teamed up with LeBron in Cleveland. He’s a career 43% shooter from deep, which is amazing, not to mention, the ranks fourth all-time in three-point shots made.
2 Carried: Eddy Curry
Eddy Curry, believe it or not, had a pretty solid start to his NBA career. Disregard the fact that he’s a 7-footer and his best season rebounding wise was during the 2006-2007 season (7 rebounds a game). He started to show up overweight at training camp and he started to slow down from a sore knee. He joined LeBron on the Miami Heat during the 2011-2012 season and actually started one game that season. He was active during the Finals and didn’t get any playing time….but he got that championship ring that all NBA players covet. The following season was the last time that Eddy Curry got any playing time in the NBA.
1 Succeeded: J.R. Smith
Forget about the blunder made in last year’s NBA Finals. I am a believer that J.R. Smith should not be judged by that. For those that don’t know, Smith is a baller. There is a reason he was drafted out of high school. There is a reason why he had a scholarship to play at UNC. Outside of LeBron James and Vince Carter, there might not have a more explosive jumper in the league than J.R. Smith. He won Sixth Man of the Year when he played for the New York Knicks during the 2012-2013 season. Let’s also not act like he didn’t have some excellent game playing with LeBron as well.