LeBron James has never played with someone as good Anthony Davis.
When LeBron James started his career in 2003, he was given a pretty rough team to work with. The only recognizable name on that roster was Carlos Boozer, who wasn't exactly a superstar caliber player. During his first stint in Cleveland, his teammates didn't get any better, which led to plenty of playoff disappointments, including a sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs in the 2007 NBA Finals. Typically, superstar players get at least one other all-star to share the court with. Throughout the 2000s, the Cavaliers refused to give LeBron the help he so desperately needed, which led to his first exodus from Cleveland. From there, he infamously went to the Miami Heat where he teamed up with all-stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. That's when his career changed forever.
This was the first time LeBron got to play with guys who knew how to win. Sure, Bosh may have come from a fractured Toronto Raptors team, but he was a dominant player who could work both sides of the court, and LeBron needed that. Meanwhile, Wade had won the NBA title in 2006 and was considered to be one of the best offensive players in the league. At the time, LeBron and Wade were seen as the best one-two punch in the league, and rightfully so. As one can imagine, this relationship turned out to be quite fruitful as LeBron, Wade, Bosh, and the Heat won two titles in four seasons. After four-straight Finals appearances with the Heat, LeBron went back home to Cleveland and unlike his first time with the team, he actually got to play with a superstar. Of course, that player was none other than Kyrie Irving.
The current Nets point guard was dominant at his position during the LeBron years and helped the King win his third title in 2016. Irving was, and is, still known for his clutch shooting, which is something LeBron struggled with at times. Both men were the perfect decoys for one another and it created a tandem that only the Splash Brother Warriors could topple. In 2017, James and Kyrie parted ways with each other, which left LeBron without a superstar teammate, yet again. Upon arriving in Los Angeles in 2018, the exact same thing occurred as he was surrounded by young players, but no real stars. Thankfully for LeBron, that all changed last summer as the Lakers acquired Anthony Davis in a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans. Throughout the 2019-2020 season, LeBron and AD have been a dominant duo with some of the best chemistry the league has ever seen. Now, the two are playing in the NBA Finals and if anything has become clear, it's that LeBron has never had a teammate as good as Davis.
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For some, this take could be considered quite blasphemous. Many NBA fans would be quick to put a legend like Wade or a one-of-a-kind point guard like Kyrie over AD. While these players are obviously great choices, it's hard to ignore the impact Davis has had on LeBron, especially this late in the King's 17-year career.
One of the big narratives surrounding LeBron is that he has always had to be the leading scorer on his team if he wants any shot at going deep in the postseason. Even with the Heat, LeBron was consistently scoring more than Wade, especially in the later years when it was becoming clear that D-Wade was both on the decline and significantly more injury-prone. Simply put, while on the Heat, if LeBron tried to rely on Wade to outperform him, the team would lose. Even with Kyrie and the Cavaliers, it was the same story. While Kyrie kept up with LeBron quite nicely, especially when it came to clutch shooting, LeBron still always had to be the best player on the court, regardless of the situation. This was particularly true on defense, where LeBron was a rebounding and block machine. Throughout the late 2010s, LeBron needed to make up for his teammates' lack of defensive ability, and it quickly led to him being gassed by the end of a playoff run, which is something we saw time and time again against the Golden State Warriors.
Anthony Davis, however, is a different story. At 27-years old, Davis is still incredibly energetic and he is also more motivated than he's ever been. For years, Davis has been a dominant player although no one got to see it first hand, because he played in a market like New Orleans, that struggles for relevancy in the context of the NBA. This past season, Davis managed to score 26.1 points per game, as opposed to LeBron's 25.3. AD even out-rebounded LeBron by an average of 1.5 rebounds per game. Considering LeBron is 35, he needs more help than ever before, and AD has filled that role perfectly. For the first time in his career, LeBron can sit back and be a game manager. He can facilitate ball movement and deliver to a player who can score with ease. With seven defensive rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game, it's clear LeBron has never played with someone so good on both sides of the court. Had LeBron tried to rely on a Dwyane Wade or a Kyrie Irving in the same capacity, it simply wouldn't have worked.
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Now, of course, Davis, Wade, and Kyrie all play different styles of basketball and occupy different positions. This means LeBron can't play with all three of these men in the same manner. Regardless, it's crystal clear that Davis is a talent that LeBron has never gotten to witness on his team before. Prior to Davis' trade to Los Angeles, LeBron knew all about AD's abilities. As a kid, AD looked up to LeBron and once he got to the NBA, he made it a point to reach out to the future Hall of Famer. Their friendship immediately grew and throughout his first season in L.A., LeBron did everything to bring Davis to the City of Angels. There was never a guarantee that their partnership would prove to be this fruitful, but it has.
Barring any sort of epic collapse, Davis and LeBron are on the precipice of an NBA title. LeBron has won rings with great players but Davis has proven to be different. The former Kentucky Wildcat is on pace to win Finals MVP and if he pulls it off, his status as LeBron's best teammate will become undeniable doctrine.