The most helpful and hurtful players in LeBron's career. There were the guys who just got in his way. They were a distraction, they had a huge lack of skill or basketball IQ, they were injury prone, they were past their prime, or they make big mistakes in big moments. Getting to intimate with his family and being a huge distraction off the court, yes with his mother. They could have had huge potential but were just injured and could not him when it mattered the most. These guys just did not help LeBron become the Hall-of-Famer we all know he will be, but rather tried to force him to be just another good player.
Some of them have helped him along the way in capturing the titles and awards he so desperately shot for, from winning the last game in the season to getting one of his four MVP awards. Some are quite obvious, guys like Dwayne Wade and Kyrie Irving are some of the biggest contributors to LeBron dominating the league. Guys who were excellent role players and accepted that in order to further the plot and help him be the best he could be. They could have also shown him how a veteran acted in the league and how to take care of himself as a man.
They were there put in place by the team's management making the right decision and knowing what LeBron needed around him to be as successful as possible. Here is the list of the players who hurt and helped LeBron James the most so far.
20 Held LeBron Back: Delonte West
Delonte West slept with LeBron's mom. Do you really need more? This is why West was traded and LeBron left for Miami. Not to mention he did not contribute much on the stat line. In this last season, he played in 60 games while starting in 3 of them. In that time he had averages of 8.8 points with 3.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds.
The team lost to the Celtics in the Conference Semifinals and it would be the last time LeBron missed the playoffs.
Delonte would only be in the league for 2 more seasons following this issue and I believe LeBron somehow made that happen although I have zero proof of that.
19 Made LeBron Look Good: Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade was not only LeBron's best and favorite teammate, he is also his best friend. They both came in the league in 2003 and from 2010-2014 they were on the most dominant team in the league. They ran through almost everyone and won 2 titles with 4 finals appearances. He was also crucial in LeBron winning 2 of his 3 MVP awards. Dwayne Wade is without the Robin to LeBron's Batman. While it might have always been Wade County, it was always LeBron's team. They tried to make it work again in Cleveland but there were so many other issues in the organization that it was best for him to return to Wade County.
18 Held LeBron Back: J.R. Smith
If you do not know why J.R. made the list, then I do not know where you have been. JR had one of the biggest finals blunders in NBA Finals history. With time still left on the clock, he got the biggest rebound off a missed free throw and he just dribbled the ball out in a tie game. His miscues continued over the rest of the series which ultimately left to a sweep and a back-to-back title for the Golden State Warriors. If JR does not deserve to be on this list then I do not know who does.
17 Made LeBron Look Good: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving was a big player for the Cavs. He was such a crucial part in them coming back from being down 3-1 in the 2016 Finals. His most memorable play from the series was when they were tied and he crossed Steph, did a step-back, and drained the three-point shot to give them the lead. They never gave that lead up again. The question has to be asked if he did not leave in a demanded trade, would the Cavs had a different outcome in the Finals. He has one of the scariest offensive packages in the league today.
16 Held LeBron Back: Tristan Thompson
Tristan Thompson was at one point the most dominant player on the offensive glass. He could clean up his team's misses better than almost anyone in the league. Thompson went from averaging almost 10 rebounds a game to only getting six. He is not the player LeBron needed in the last two finals to combat the ferocity that is and was the Golden State Warriors.
Not to mention his defensive prowess had dropped off.
Going from 1.1 blocks a game to just 0.3 blocks. Not to mention the off-court drama that has been going on with the Kardashians this season, once he accepted the Kardashian curse, LeBron should have traded him.
15 Made LeBron Look Good: Chris Bosh
Chris Bosh was such an underrated player while playing for the Heat in Miami, but he was so crucial to the success of that team. Being able to stretch the floor, grab rebounds, and play defense at an extremely high level all season long. Although his numbers had fallen off since his time in Toronto, it was only because he was willing to accept a lesser role in order to make his impact on the league and his team great. Bosh will always be one of his best teammates. It is really unfortunate that he got those blood clots because he still had so much left in his tank to dominate the league.
14 Held LeBron Back: Anderson Varejao
Anderson Varejao had the most injury problems during his career. During his 13-year career, he only played in 60 or more games 4 times. That is not a good number. He played with LeBron in Cleveland almost every season that LeBron played there with the exception of the last 2 and his first 2 seasons.
Not only that, but he was never an excellent center in the league.
He only averaged 8 or more rebounds 5 times and was never an elite defender either. These are just a few of the many reasons why Anderson will always be seen as a player who held LeBron back and never earned a title with The King.
13 Made LeBron Look Good: Ray Allen
Ray Allen is considered one of the best shooters in the league ever. The biggest shot he made was being the savior of game 6 in the 2013 NBA Finals. Chris Bosh grabbed the rebound and threw the ball out to Ray who hit the corner 3 which tied the game and sent the game into overtime where the Heat won easy. Ray was crucial in the success for the Heat during that stretch. Had he missed that shot, LeBron would be 2-7 in the NBA finals and most likely out of the discussion for GOAT. His shooting spaced the floor and helped them play in the last two finals appearances in Miami.
12 Held LeBron Back: Shaquille O’Neal
This is not a real dig at Shaq. That was such a talented team that probably had a really good shot to win the title. But at this time in his career, Shaq was 37 years old and way out of his prime. That season he only played in 53 games and had 12 points with 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, which is terrible compared to his career averages. But Shaq injured his hand which made him miss time and threw him out of what little groove he had. They got knocked out in the second round his lone season.
11 Made LeBron Look Good: Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Big-Z. He was a monster playing at the center position standing at a staggering 7'3" and weighing in at 260 lb. Playing for the Cavs for all but his last season in the league, he never averaged less than 10 points but those final two seasons, usually having scoring averages up in the upper teens.
In his career, he averaged 13.0 points with 7.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.
There is no doubt that he was a crucial player in LeBron's first Finals run even though they did end up being swept. He did the best he could to help them but he never found his way to a championship, that is the only thing hurting his great career next to LeBron.
10 Held LeBron Back: Isaiah Thomas
Although their time together was quite short, it is undoubtedly that Isaiah Thomas and LeBron were never going to fit together. During his 15 games in Cleveland, he had 14.7 points and 4.5 assists. His numbers were not the thing that held him back to being a great teammate to LeBron, rather it was his little man syndrome that did him in. He had such a huge ego to compensate for his short height that he and LBJ never saw eye to eye. It is no wonder he was traded so fast. It is curious to wonder where he will go this offseason because he came off the bench in LA for Lonzo Ball, his ego will not allow that for long.
9 Made LeBron Look Good: James Jones
Jones is the biggest LeBron support if there ever was one. James Jone also appeared in 7 straight finals alongside LeBron. He would have made it 8 but he retired at the end of the 2017 finals. He is now the vice president of basketball operations for the Suns. Jones was never part of LeBron's team for his skill on the floor as he only averaged 5.2 points a game. Rather it was his head for the game and his ability to manage a locker room and keep things level. That's one of the greatest reasons he made this team.
8 Held LeBron Back: Matthew Dellavedova
Matthew Dellavedova had one good defensive Finals appearance and then was the biggest liability they had. All of his plays were either dirty or questionably dirty. Since he does not have the fame like Draymond, he can not just get away with that play and it was looked down on by almost everyone in the league. During the 2015 finals, he was carried to two wins that LeBron managed and as soon as his contract was up the Cavs made 0 attempts to sign him to another deal. He joined the Bucks where he has mostly been a player to come off the bench, if at all.
7 Made LeBron Look Good: Antwan Jamison
Antwan Jamison might go unlooked as being someone who was very helpful to LeBron, but I believe that he was crucial to his success. The Cavs traded for him in the middle of the 2009-2010 season in order to bring LeBron some scoring help. He did just that.
In his 25 games playing for the Cavs, he had 15.8 points while shooting 48.5% from the field.
His totals stayed the same in the playoffs too. He was brought in just to help LeBron look good, and boy did he ever. That is why the unsuspecting Jamison made the list for players who helped LeBron.
6 Held LeBron Back: Mario Chalmers
Chalmers was always the scapegoat in Miami for a very good reason, he deserved it. There are countless examples of Mario just making the wrong play or his ego just doing him in. Although he did play and start in most of the games during the era in Miami, the most common thing anyone could see on a nightly basis on the floor was either LeBron, Bosh, or Wade yelling at Chalmers for doing something terribly wrong. The most memorable instance of this is when Chalmers and Bosh were having an argument and Joakim Noah came over and started to applaud their lack of chemistry.
5 Made LeBron Look Good: Mo Williams
Mo Williams played with LeBron in two separate instances while with Cleveland. During the first stint, he was an All-Star in 2009 and helped the team make it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals before being booted by Dwight Howard and the rest of the Orlando Magic. He joined them again in 2015 offseason after the Cavs had lost in the Finals and they were gearing up to make a return run to the Finals. He was a very good role player during that playoff run in 2016. While he did not stuff the stat-sheet, he was a great leader for the team and was probably one of the most underrated reasons why they were able to do what no team had done to make the 3-1 comeback.
4 Held LeBron Back: Jordan Clarkson
Clarkson is a talented guard who has potential to be in this league. He just did not show it while in Cleveland, during the season or post-season. He did not start any of the 28 games for the Cavs after he was traded and all of his stats dropped post-trade. Not to mention how bad he was during the playoffs where he averaged 4.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 0.7 assists. He also shot the ball very poorly with 23.4% from three-point range. Clarkson was not in any way the player that the Cleveland Cavilers need to beat the powerhouse in Golden State.
3 Made LeBron Look Good: Udonis Haslem
Udonis Haslem did not really make his impact in the stat sheet for the Heat. Haslem was more of a locker room. Haslem was able to have such a big impact in the way that LeBron learned to have that same leadership level. There was a clear lesson in loyalty when James arrived in Miami because Dwayne Wade restructured his deal in order to keep Haslem on the roster. Their bond grew so tight that this life-long Miami Heat player considered following in James Jones steps and following LeBron to the Cavaliers just to stay close to him and help his new team get that championship mindset.
2 Held LeBron Back: Timofey Mozgov
Timofey Mozgov has never been a great player, and in Cleveland, he was only okay at his best. In his best season, he did start in 48 of the 76 games he played in but he only managed 6.6 points with 4.4 rebounds in that time.
He got even worse in their championship run as he started in 0 of the 13 games he actually played in.
He did not do much with his time either as he averaged 1.2 points with 1.7 rebounds. Mozgov did not deserve the massive contract the Lakers gave him and is now struggling in Brooklyn with the Nets having only played in 31 games this season.
1 Made LeBron Look Good: Carlos Boozer
Carlos Boozer is one of the more forgettable teammates LeBron had but he had a profound impact on his career. One of the only good players on his team in his first 2 years there. Had the Cavs front office been better or smarter they could have retained Boozer in his next few years where he became an All-Star and had a great tandem between LeBron and Boozer. Most people remember the years that the Bulls and the Heat faced off with the amount of bad blood that was there but few remember just how good these two were playing with each other. Not to mention the '07 Cavs might not have gotten swept as 2007 was the first year Boozer was an All-Star.
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