It is no secret that LeBron James is the best player in the NBA. Likely en route to his seventh straight trip to the NBA Finals, with three rings, and three Finals MVP Awards along the way is all we need for proof. The accomplishments and accolades James has accumulated through his first fourteen years in the league have been well chronicled. The superstar players he has played with has also been recounted on numerous occasions, and the debate about whether James belongs in the conversation with Michael Jordan has become a legitimate discussion now.
One of the things that people often point to when denying LeBron entry into the 'GOAT' conversation is that he has played with some of the best players of his era. Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and others are all brought to the table when speaking of the help James has had during his career. What is often left out of those conversations is the terrible players James has had to compensate for during his three title runs. James has had some of the statically worst performing players on his roster during his championship seasons, but that is an often overlooked fact when discussing James's greatness. Today it will be overlooked no more, brace yourself for a gauntlet of garbage as we reveal the 15 worst players LeBron James has carried to and NBA title.
15 Mathew Dellavedova
Like many players on this list, Mathew Dellavedova earned more than just a championship ring playing along side LeBron James. After winning the 2016 NBA Championship, Delli received a 4 year/$38 million contract from the Milwaukee Bucks, not bad for a back up point guard with extremely limited offensive skills.
During Cleveland's run to back to back finals, Dellavedova become somewhat of a cult hero. The stories of him shutting down Steph Curry were extremely exaggerated to the point that people fail to remember Steph averaging over 25 points per game during those two series. As the true leader he is however, you would never hear James say a bad thing about his Australian teammate, quite the contrary.When speaking about Dellavedova James was quoted, “That’s a guy who is dedicated, who never cared about guys saying that Delly is not fast enough, Delly is not strong enough, Delly can’t shoot it well enough, Delly is not an NBA player. Well guess what? Delly is a champion."
14 Juwan Howard
The only All-Star on this list, Juwan Howard was far removed from the 1996 version of himself that made the only All-Star appearance of his career. By 2012 and 2013 Howard was nothing more than a coach in uniform, yet he still gets to add NBA Champion to his playing resume, twice actually.
There is no denying that Howard's role on those two championship teams was to be a veteran presence in the locker room and on the bench. His production on the court was about as impactful as the PA announcer. Howard averaged less than five minutes per game during the back to back championships, but his perspective of James was clear. He admired LeBron and all he was able to do, this quote from 2011 in regards to LeBron winning a championship pretty much sums up Howard's respect for James, "Whenever that day happens, I will be so happy for him personally, because he truly deserves it. He works extremely hard, he's a team guy, he gets a lot of unfair criticism. And until you have walked in his shoes, you don't know what it feels like to deal with all that. And my heart goes out to him, for how he handles it. And I respect him so much for how he handles it. A player of his caliber could be a total a——, but he's the total opposite. I might shed a tear, for him, if that ever happens."
13 James Jones
The relationship between James Jones and LeBron James is as close to family as you can get without actually being family. LeBron has repeatedly told anyone willing to listen that he believes James Jones is the best teammate he could ever have. LeBron has even gone so far as to say that Jones is not allowed to retire until LeBron is ready too.
With the brotherhood like relationship in mind, there is no denying that James Jones has three championship rings solely because of that bond. LeBron has shown that he is willing to sacrifice a spot on the teams' roster to have his best friend around. Jones is not ignorant to the fact either, saying of LeBron, “He knows I’m eternally indebted to him, and most importantly, because he’s done that for me, the only thing I want to see him be is the greatest player ever to play this game. And not just a great basketball player, but a man, a father, a husband, an individual, an icon. And so, that’s why we share that bond, because I told him my goal, my focus here is to win championships and to help him build his legacy so that he’s iconic. When they think about the greatest player to ever play the game of basketball and one of the greatest athletes to ever impact the sport or impact the world, I want that to be him and no one else.”
12 Timofey Mozgov
Like Mathew Dellavedova, and others, Timofey Mozgov owes more than just his championship ring to LeBron. After being a complete non-factor in the Cavs 2016 NBA Championship victory over the Golden State Warriors, Mozgov signed a 4 year/$64 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. James being the leader he is, gave Timo a shout out on Twitter after he signed with L.A. James congratulated him, as well reminding him that when they see each other again, dinner better be on Timofey.
Mozgov was acquired by the Cavs in 2015 when they were attempting to bolster their interior. Up to that point Timofey was most famous for his appearance in Blake Griffin's most epic posterization. LeBron, never being one to hold back his true feelings, had quite the interesting compliment for Mozgov when Cleveland signed him back in 2015. James recounts the story as follows, "So I come down the elevator, and Timo is in the lobby. And I swear, it looked like I’d seen the biggest human being I’ve ever seen in my life. I looked at Griff [GM], and said, He’s a big motherf*****, ain’t he.”
11 Mario Chalmers
Mario Chalmers is widely regarded as one of the worst starting point guards to win multiple NBA Championship. During his time with LeBron and the Heat, Chalmers was often the team punching bag. There are countless videos on Youtube of Heat players getting upset with Chalmers, one in particular when James jumps from his seat on the bench to get into Chalmers face during a timeout.
Many players from those Heat teams including, Shane Battier, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and coach Spoelstra all had to get into Mario from time to time because of his stubborn nature. Despite his bull-headedness, Chalmers has since admitted to his ways. In a recent interview he said: "Playing with guys like D Wade and Bron, who had both been to the Finals in previous seasons, you didn't want to be the guy they looked at and said, 'We lost 'cause of him.' Those two guys looked at me like a little brother, so all those times you saw them yelling at me, that was brotherly love, man. [But it was also real yelling!]"
10 Norris Cole
Norris Cole might be the most famous player to never average more than 6.5 points or 3.5 assists per game in league history. During his four years with the Miami Heat, Cole's career high in points per game was 6.3 in 2014. Like fellow Heat point guard, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole has bounced around the league since LeBron decided to leave Miami. Both Cole and Chalmers have had rumored interested in rejoining James in Cleveland, but it seems James has little interest in bringing either one on board in Ohio.
The closest thing to praise that LeBron has said about Norris was when he compared him to Mathew Dellavedova. James said, "I had Norris Cole on my team in Miami. He was the same type of guy. We called him the pit bull. You just put him out there on anybody and he's always going to be successful and know you can never discredit how he goes about the game and how hard he plays. You put him out there for 20 seconds and it will be the hardest 20 seconds he ever played, like he'll never play again... Everything they do won't show up in the box score but teammates and people that know the game know he made an impact." I guess that is a compliment... right?
9 Ronny Turiaf
Ronny Turiaf is probably more famous for having heart surgery and returning to the NBA than he is for any on court accomplishments. He was a quality college player during his days at Gonazaga University, but he never lived up to the potential as an NBA player.
Turiaf had an extremely interesting NBA career, playing for seven teams in only 10 seasons. Yet, Turiaf found a way to capture and NBA championship in Miami during the LeBron James era. His time in Miami was short, having appeared in only 12 games, starting seven of them. The production was just not there as he averaged only 1.9 points per game and was rarely used as Miami preferred to run their version of 'small-ball'. Turiaf’s career numbers are not much better than what he contributed in his short time with the Heat. Over 10 seasons Turiaf was only able to average 4.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
8 Jordan McRae
Jordan McRae is one of LeBron James' favorite practice players, and until recently, James viewed him as a project. James said he viewed McRae as a little brother,a guy who he believes could be an elite scorer in the NBA someday. But, for once, it is clear LeBron was wrong on this one.
McRae began his career in Australia where he showed that he could fill it up in a less than stellar league. After one season down under he returned to the states and joined the Delaware 87ers, the D-League affiliate for the Philadelphia 76ers. He struggled to shine as bright there as he did in the Australian league, but he did enough to earn a spot on the Philadephia Summer League squad. In early 2016 the Cavaliers signed him to a 10-day contract and he became a favorite of LeBron's. McRae was on the bench for the Cavaliers magical run to the NBA title last season, but sadly McRae was waved by the Cavs in March 2017. Nevertheless, McRae will always have a championship ring and some pretty incredible memories from that wild 2015-16 season.
7 Sasha Kaun
Sasha Kaun is one of the luckiest NBA players of all time, without question. Kaun played a grand total of 25 NBA games, all of which he came off the bench. Kaun was drafted in 2008 by the Seattle SuperSonics, the final pick made by the franchise before relocating to Oklahoma City. He was traded to Cleveland on draft day in 2008.
Sasha opted to stay in Russia and play professionally there for seven years before he finally came to the U.S. In 2015 he finally joined the Cavaliers but was immediately sent to their D-League affiliate. During the Cavaliers' amazing run to the NBA Championship in 2016, Kaun played an amazing zero minutes. However, he did make history. Kaun and teammate Timofey Mozgov became the first Russians to win an NBA Championship. After winning the championship, the Cavaliers traded Sasha to the Philadelphia 76ers, who promptly waived the Russian bigman. Kaun then decided he was ready to call it a career, so after 25 NBA games and an NBA Championship, Sasha Kaun retired from professional basketball.
6 Jarvis Varnado
Jarvis Varnado played seven years of professional basketball, spending time in the NBA, the NBA D-League, and several stints playing professionally overseas. He was known most for his ability to block, and alter shots at the rim, but his talents were never quite enough to sustain a run in the NBA. Over his seven year professional career Jarvis played in only 37 regular season NBA games.
Despite only playing in 37 games, Varnado will forever be the proud owner of and NBA championship ring. That of course comes courtesy of LeBron James and the Miami Heat team from 2013. Jarvis signed a 10-day contract on January 9, 2013 with the Heat, the same team that drafted him in 2010. He was then signed to a second 10-day contract on January 20 and ultimately signed for the rest of the season on January 30. Although he didn't record a single minute of playing time during the postseason, Varnado was a part of the roster, and for that he will always be an NBA Champion.
5 Terrel Harris
After having a solid college career at Oklahoma State, Harris went undrafted in 2009. His road to the NBA began in Strasbourg, France. He performed well enough in France to earn a chance at a roster spot in the NBA D-League. After three years of D-League and overseas ball he was given an invite to the Miami Heat training camp. During training camp Harris did just enough as he was signed to the final roster spot on the Heat team.
Harris was able to keep his spot on the Heat roster for the entire 2012 season, including the post season. Unlike some players on this list, Harris actually played during his Championship playoff run. That is right, Harris played in four playoff games, averaging 2.5 minutes per game, and a whopping 1.3 points per game. In his career, Harris played in a total of 42 NBA games, including those four playoff games. He is currently still playing professionally in Israel.
4 Joel Anthony
Somehow, Joel Anthony has spent the last decade suiting up for NBA games. He has logged over 7,000 career minutes and has two NBA championships to his name. It is incredibly that a guy who has a career high of 3.5 points per game could last a decade in the league, but somehow Joel has done it.
In 2007 he went undrafted out of UNLV, but the Heat signed him to a one year deal, with a team option for a second year. Apparently he did enough in that season to earn another year with the team. When the Heat went out and signed LeBron, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, there was very little cap space left, and it appears out of desperation, the Heat signed Anthony again simply due to the fact that he was willing to take the league minimum. During his two NBA championship seasons, Anthony contributed just over three points and three rebounds per game as a key role player, needless to say he owes those two rings to LeBron and Co.
3 Eddy Curry
Eddy Curry was one of the most highly touted big men to enter the NBA out of high school, he is also a commonly used example of why players should go to college before entering the NBA. Curry had all the skills needed to dominate the NBA, except the discipline and maturity.
After seeing his career slip away due to health, Curry dropped 70 pounds in 2011 and was given a one year contract by the Miami Heat. As a part of the Heat's 2011-12 championship team, Curry played 83 minutes in 14 games, including a lone game as the teams starting center. Curry was active for only one game during the playoffs, a game in which he never ended up playing in. Ultimately Curry has become a cautionary tale for younger players, but at the end of the day he will always have that championship ring he can look at with a smile.
2 Dexter Pittman
Dexter Pittman had one of the more fortuitous beginnings to a career that a player could ever ask for. In 2010 the Heat drafted Pittman out of the University of Texas. He was a second round pick who had a huge upside, but had yet to really reach his potential.
After spending his rookie season in the D-League, Pittman was all but forced onto the Heat roster in his second year. After the signing of LeBron, Wade, and Bosh, the Heat were stuck with very little cap space, and a player already under contract, like Pittman, was a great way to fill roster spots. Pittman appeared in 35 games during his championship season, starting in six games. His career average of 2.3 points, and 1.8 rebounds tells you all you need to know about his skill level. The Heat were in desperate need of bodies, and Pittman was in the right place at the right time, and it enabled him to capture an NBA title.
1 Dahntay Jones
Dahntay Jones was a very good high school and college player. Once he got to the NBA it seemed the talent level had just become too much for him to keep up with. As his career progressed, Jones, being a crafty guy, found a way to stay in the league. He found that getting under opponents skin was a way for him to bring value to his team. As an undersized, under skilled player who averaged over ten points only once in his career, he realized he would have to do whatever it took to stay in the league.
After playing for seven franchises in 11 years Jones signed with the Cavaliers in April 2016. During the teams run to the title Jones played 3.3 minutes per game during the playoffs, averaging 1.1 point per game. He did find his way to center stage during the finals when he and Golden State star Draymond Green got into a war of words which began when Jones was a member of the Clippers. Jones intentionally bumped Green during a post game interview in what can only be classified as a desperate attempt to draw a reaction from the often emotional Draymond. I guess every team needs someone to do the dirty work, but Jones is one of the worst.