NBA: The LeBron James effect

Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James has been the center of attraction since the day he arrived in the NBA as an 18-year-old. After being drafted as the #1 Overall Pick in the 2003 Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, he left for the Miami Heat in 2010 and came back to the Cavaliers in 2014 before joining the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this year.

Now that The King has changed his team on multiple occasions, it is fair to evaluate the effect he has had on these franchises and his teammates. Let's begin with the effect he has on his teams' records. When he left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the first time in 2010, the team crumbled in his absence.

The Cavs who were a 61 and 21 team dropped to 19 and 63. A total turnaround. When he left the Heat in 2014, the Heat turned from a 54 and 28 team to a 37 and 45 team. It's that simple really. Teams suffer badly when LeBron James leaves. That's the LeBron James effect. He carries the weight of his team on his shoulder and when he's gone, his ex-team fail to even make the Playoffs.

The second effect is closely related to the first one. While it is clear that LeBron James makes ordinary teams look great, we must take into account that LeBron has his team build around him and he's always the centerpiece. All things run through LeBron and the team is essentially constructed in such a way that once he leaves, the management has to build the team from scratch because that centerpiece is no longer there.

While the LeBron loving media really love to say that LeBron makes his teammates better, a solid argument can be made that LeBron doesn't necessarily make his teammates better basketball players, he makes them the kind of players he needs them to be in order to succeed.

Take Chris Bosh and Kevin Love for example. Chris Bosh was one of the best post-players in the NBA with his time with his Toronto Raptors before he joined LeBron in Miami. He was that Power Forward who would run pick and rolls and excel in the low post. However, LeBron's style of play forced Bosh to become a mid-range shooter for the Miami Heat.

Same is the case with Kevin Love. When he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Love was an all-around player at the PF spot but had to become a Stretch 5 Center for the Cavs and had to shoot a lot of 3 pointers. Those are two All-Stars that were forced to change their playing styles completely because of the LeBron James effect.

Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors

Now that he's a Laker, other NBA superstars look reluctant to play second fiddle to LeBron. This is the latest LeBron James effect as many players have publically accepted that playing with LeBron is a demanding task. While role-players like Kyle Korver were okay playing with him, a superstar like Kyrie Irving demanded to be traded away.

Like all the great players in NBA history, LeBron James too has his own impact on the teams he plays on and even though he is a proven winner, some of the effects hurt his franchise in the long run.

Edited by Abhinav Munshi
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