There is absolutely no doubt that LeBron James is one of the greatest athletes over the last 15 years of professional sports. Not only did he develop into the NBA’s biggest star since Michael Jordan, James also became a pop culture icon, Olympic Gold Medal recipient and entrepreneur.
As a two-time NBA Champion with six appearances in the finals throughout his career with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, James has surely had his fair share of great teammates. Whether it’s Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Juwan Howard, Shawn Marion or Mike Miller, James has spent time with players that were future Hall of Famers, perennial All-Stars, supreme role players or veterans who understood their place on the roster.
Because of this, James has gained much success. However, that wasn’t always the case for the King.
Especially during his early seasons during his first stint as a Cavalier, James was surrounded by mediocre talent. Whether it was because the organization wanted James to be the lone superstar, as they believed it would help him grow or just didn’t have the resources to secure any bigger names, James has shared the court with plenty of players that didn’t belong in the same uniform as he did.
However, that didn’t stop in Cleveland. During his stay with the Heat and his comeback to the Cavaliers, he continued to have a wave of players who simply stood out for all the wrong reasons. Although his supporting cast has certainly improved since his first few seasons in the NBA, James has rarely stacked team around him.
And while there have been plenty of poor players alongside James, none may be worse than these guys. Check out top 15 worst players that LeBron James has played with throughout his career.
15. Brendan Haywood
Was Brendan Haywood a competent starting center? Yes. Did Haywood deserve a contract from the Dallas Mavericks for five years for over $50 million in total salary? No shot.
When he landed with the Cavs before the 2014-15 campaign, Haywood probably felt that he had a new lease on life. While it was obvious he wouldn’t play, Haywood would have a chance to compete for a championship. Minus, the championship victory, everything else came true. Haywood was used as a big body in emergency situations, while seeing zero minutes in the playoffs.
14. Kendrick Perkins
The situation with Kendrick Perkins is similar to that of Brendan Haywood. At one point, the Perkins was the starting center for the dominant Boston Celtics of the late 2000s. Unfortunately, after being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, he lost a step, which relegated him to backup duties.
Over his four seasons with the Thunder, Perkins regressed, as players such as Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams garnered playing time over him.
During last season’s trade deadline, Perkins was shipped to the Cleveland Cavaliers to give the team an attitude. His only memorable moment as a Cav came in the first round of the playoffs, when he set a controversial screen on Boston Celtic Jae Crowder.
13. Mike Wilks
The name Mike Wilks may not ring many bells, and that’s not much of a surprise; although he played in seven seasons with eight different teams, he was usually used as a backup or third string point guard.
However, his most successful season came in the 2004-05 campaign, which saw him capture an NBA Championship with the San Antonio Spurs. In said season, he played in a career high 48 games.
Wanting to get championship caliber players around LeBron James, Wilks was signed by Cleveland the following season. Unfortunately, his impact was non-existent. In his lone season with the Cavaliers, Wilks played in 37 games that saw him average just 1.1 points in six minutes per game.
12. Ira Newble
Ira Newble scratched and clawed his way into the NBA. After starting off in a community college, Newble played at Miami University of Ohio. After going undrafted, the combo forward played overseas until 2002, which was the same year he finally landed a job with the Atlanta Hawks.
After having a successful season for a player off the bench, Newble inked a contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Although he played a career high 74 games and started a career high 69 games in the 2004-05 season, Newble was hardly impressive.
Over his surprisingly long five year career with the Cavaliers, Newble never averaged more than six points or three rebounds per game, all the while playing alongside LeBron James.
11. Robert Traylor
Robert Traylor, a power forward by way of the University of Michigan, is largely remembered for being extremely quick while having a soft touch around the rim for his weight and size. Unfortunately, his strong numbers at Michigan were all mired in controversy, as every game Taylor played in was vacated due to illegal involvements with outside parties.
Despite the problems in college, Traylor was still an intriguing prospect out of college, as he was chosen by the Dallas Mavericks with the sixth overall pick in 1998 and was subsequently traded for Dirk Nowitzki.
While his weight ballooned throughout his career, Traylor was never able to live up to his lofty collegiate expectations. His second stint as a Cleveland Cavalier came in 2005-2006, where he was a teammate with LeBron James. In what would be his last NBA season, Traylor averaged just five points and four rebounds in 18 minutes per game.
10. Mike Bibby
When you think of Mike Bibby, what always comes to mind is one of the most skilled passers and beloved players of his era. Starting out his career with the Vancouver Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings, Bibby rose to stardom with his awe-inspiring playmaking ability.
Although he lost a step athletically, Bibby still possessed a knack for making great passes and knocking down threes, which made him a valuable commodity to the Atlanta Hawks. After working out a buyout once he was traded to the Washington Wizards, Bibby wanted to join a contender; so he joined LeBron James on the Miami Heat.
Many fans were excited for the signing, as people believed that Bibby could take over the starting point guard role and play like his younger self. However, at 32 years old, he lost a step; and in only 22 games (12 starts), Bibby averaged a disappointing seven points and two assists.
9. Eddy Curry
When Eddy Curry was a part of the Chicago Bulls and his earlier years with the New York Knicks, many believed that he could develop into one of the top centers in the league.
Unfortunately, similar to Robert Traylor, Curry dealt with an abundance of weight issues. Seeing the numbers continue to rise on the scale, Curry was typically inactive for the Knicks towards the end of his run. However, the team was finally able to rid themselves of his contract, as Curry was shipped to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
After being bought out by the Timberwolves, Curry was searching for a chance at a ring; so, just like Bibby, he signed on with the Miami Heat. However, also similar to Bibby, Curry made a minimal impact; in just 14 games, he averaged just two points, less than a rebound and six minutes per game.
8. Ben Wallace
Before Ben Wallace became one of the most feared centers in the NBA, he spent three seasons relegated to bench duties with the Washington Bullets/Wizards. After spending one season as a starter with the Orlando Magic, Wallace was shipped to the Detroit Pistons – and the rest was history.
Over the course of six seasons, Wallace developed into a menace on the glass and as a shot blocker, while becoming the heart and soul of a team that was always in contention during his stay. After two seasons with the Chicago Bulls, the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Wallace with hopes of his emotion and attitude rubbing off on LeBron James.
Unfortunately, Wallace was too far past his prime to make an impact. While I’m sure he had plenty of conversations with James on how to become a great, his on the court statistics weren’t very good. He never averaged more than five points and eight rebounds in his stint.
7. Jamario Moon
Jamario Moon is probably one of the most athletic players to ever step foot on an NBA court; unfortunately, elite athleticism can only get you so far.
After spending six years in various semi-pro leagues across the globe, Moon finally got his chance with the Toronto Raptors in 2007. Although he stood out in Canada, Moon was shipped to the Miami Heat and was signed by the Cleveland Cavaliers the following season.
Despite his aforementioned athleticism, Moon never average more than five points and three rebounds per game. Although he was great on the receiving ends of alley-oops, he wasn’t good at much else and never able to help LeBron.
6. Kevin Ollie
When you think of point guard Kevin Ollie, you think of one of the best college coaches right now, as he is currently at the helm of the University of Connecticut’s men’s basketball team. However, many people don’t realize that he spent an impressive 13 seasons in the NBA.
Spanning from 1997-2010, Ollie played for 12 teams, including of course the Cavs.
During LeBron James’ first professional season, the Cleveland Cavaliers front office enlisted Ollie to be one of the point guards to help create shots for the future superstar. Unfortunately, Ollie wasn’t very good with the Cavs; in 17 minutes per game, the future coach averaged just four points and two assists in all 82 games.
5. Eric Snow
The long list of subpar point guards that LeBron James played with throughout his career doesn’t stop with Kevin Ollie; if you remember correctly, Eric Snow was also an on-and-off starter from 2004-2007.
The Cavaliers hoped that Snow would be the defensive minded, pass first floor general that could help James succeed; unfortunately, his old age began to show during his four seasons with the Cavs. While he did play 81 or more games in three of his four years, Snow averaged just four points and four assists over that span.
4. Sebastian Telfair
If LeBron James was one of the greatest high school players during his time, Sebastian Telfair would rank right up there as well. A product from Brooklyn, Telfair was a maestro in the passing game while also having the speed and quickness to get to the basket at the drop of the hat. While many believed he should have gained experience in college, Telfair instead opted for the NBA in 2004.
Although he was selected 13th overall, it was obvious Telfair was not ready for the NBA. Telfair bounced around the league, including a stint with the Cavs in 2010.
While many were hoping that Telfair would find renewed life and energy with James, he didn’t get too much playing time. Although he was productive while on the court (19 minutes per game, 10 points, three rebounds), Telfair only appeared in four games.
3. Dexter Pittman
Dexter Pittman was drafted by the Miami Heat in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft. Similar to Robert Traylor, Pittman dealt with extreme weight problems, albeit during his college career at Texas. However, after dropping nearly 100 pounds, Pittman developed into a steady force with the Longhorns.
Original plans were for Pittman to start out as a backup, while eventually developing into the Heat’s young starting center. In 2011-12, he had his best season as a pro, as he played in 35 games while starting six. The stats weren’t there, but his potential began to show.
Unfortunately, that season was also his best. In both 2010-11 and 2012-13, Pittman played in just six total games, all in garbage time. Those two seasons were mostly spent in the D-League, where the Heat hoped he would hone his skills; unfortunately, his immense potential never panned out.
2. Greg Oden
Back in the mid-2000s, there was no more dominant center at the college level than Greg Oden. After being hailed as the next great center, Oden was chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers first overall in 2007 – one pick before Kevin Durant.
At the time, the pick was warranted; Oden was a two-way force at Ohio State, where he put up 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game. However, his frame was too much to handle, as his body soon broke down, and devastating injury after devastating injury occurred one after another.
Throughout his tenure as a Trail Blazer, Oden had each season cut short due to injury, including missing three campaigns entirely. However, Oden wasn’t a quitter; in 2013, he continued his comeback and earned a one-year contract with the Miami Heat.
Many hoped that LeBron James would be a key figure in Oden’s comeback. Unfortunately, his injury issues kept returning. He didn’t see NBA action until January of that season, and Oden played in just 23 games, averaging three points and two rebounds. He hasn’t played in an NBA game since that season.
1. Luke Jackson
On a list that features LeBron James worst teammates, Luke Jackson isn’t only the worst; he is, by far, the most disappointing teammate of James’ in his career. After standing out as a high school star in Oregon, Jackson took his talents to Oregon, where he was portrayed as a hometown hero of sorts.
One year after selecting LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers believed they had the perfect player to pair with the budding superstar; while James would drive to the basket, he would have the option to kick it out to Jackson, who would knock down the open opportunities.
Unfortunately, the pairing never materialized. Although Jackson did shoot 66% from three-point range his first season, it was an extremely small sample size – he only played in 10 games, averaging just four minutes in each appearance. His second season was more of the same, as Jackson was eventually traded away to the Boston Celtics.
In 2004, the Cavaliers believed they were going to have a great one-two punch for years to come. Instead, they gave James arguably the worst teammate he’s ever had.
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