The 2018 NBA Finals have been a lopsided affair so far with the superstar-laden Golden State Warriors lording it over the hapless Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Cavs are the best that the Eastern Conference can offer after topping the Boston Celtics more than a week ago, it’s clear that LeBron James is lacking in support from his teammates.
No matter how good James is, there’s a huge gap that exists between the Warriors and Cavs due to the four All-Stars that play for the Bay Area Squad. Two of them were former MVP’s (Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant). On James’ squad, he only has Kevin Love as a fellow All-Star to go to battle with, and he hasn’t been playing to his All-Star level in the playoffs, even if he has found some type of rhythm in Game’s 1 and 3 of the Finals.
It’s quite obvious that this really isn’t a fair fight. So, what if we could level the playing field? In a fantasy world where any player can go to any NBA team, which players could join James on the Cavs and challenge the defending champs in a fair matchup?
Here are the players that I believe should be on James’ team for him to have a fair shot at going to war and winning the championship against Curry, Durant, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and the rest of the Warriors.
(Inspired by Reddit user Cornrow_Kenny).
Point Guard: J.J. Redick
James doesn’t need a traditional point guard since he handles the playmaking duties anyway. What he needs is a point guard-sized shooter and few, if any, will complement the Cavaliers superstar better than Redick at this position. He is a proven commodity; someone who has shown that he can play with a LeBron-clone in Ben Simmons with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Curry will have his hands full trying to guard someone who can shoot the lights out, too.
Shooting Guard: Paul George
At 6-foot-8, George will play a big shooting guard capable of shutting down Thompson without much help. He can also help out in double-teaming Durant if need be and still have the speed and length to go back out to guard Thompson.
Plus, George is an excellent outside shooter who can also slash to the basket and create his own offense. He’s the perfect counterpart to James when he drives and kicks the ball out.
Small Forward: Kawhi Leonard
James needs a teammate who can guard Durant, and nobody is as capable of doing so as Leonard. The Klaw not only gives James the chance to rest his 15-year old veteran legs on defense, he can also make Durant work for his shots.
Leonard is also a very good shooter from the arc, having shot 38.0 percent from 3-point range two years ago. When healthy, few are as good at the small forward position as Leonard.
Power Forward: LeBron James
In this lineup, James will go back to the power forward position that he played back in his Miami Heat days. He’s big enough to go back to his old position and be effective again.
Playing in the mid to low post will keep him fresher since he doesn’t have to keep bullying his way to the rack night in and night out. Rather than drive to the basket all the time, James only needs a few dribbles before taking a fallaway jumper or weaving his way inside.
Center: Kevin Love
Believe it or not, the fourth All-Star that fits James’ team to match the Warriors’ own All-Star quartet is Love. Despite his shortcomings defensively, being a stretch five makes him the right big man teammate for James. He can rebound against Draymond Green (or any of the Warriors’ bigs) and take him outside to keep the Warriors’ best defender from clogging the lane.
Love has always been a terrific shooter throughout his career and in this lineup, he’ll be counted upon often to make shots from beyond the arc.
Jamal Crawford – Crawford would be a great matchup for Shaun Livingston. Two very good and tall point guards going at each other would be exciting to watch. One thing going for Crawford is that he can shoot the three unlike Livingston, who is relegated to shooting midrange jumpers. He can also play shooting guard alongside one of the two players below.
Patty Mills – The more traditional point guard on this team is the Spurs’ backup playmaker who is one of the more clutch shooters coming off the bench.
Jason Terry – The sweet-shooting Terry is like Redick but years older. He can still swish it with the best of them, though.
Shooting Guards/Small Forwards:
Eric Gordon – Gordon is an excellent backup shooting guard to George. He’ll be relied upon to provide consistent scoring off the bench, and Gordon is more than capable of doing that.
Kyle Korver – Better to keep one of the most lethal three-point marksmen in history on James’ team. Korver may be struggling in the Cavs’ offense in this series, but if he has other threats on the floor like him, he’ll find openings easily and knock down some threes to help out the cause.
Channing Frye – They traded him at the deadline but Frye is an excellent reserve center since he can shoot the three, and he’s big enough to rebound and bother shots in the middle.
Robin Lopez – Lopez is around to bang bodies with the likes of Zaza Pachulia, Jordan Bell and JaVale McGee. He would be a very good defensive presence as a reserve.
Brad Stevens – Of course, we need a new coach! Incumbent Cavs head man Tyronn Lue has been slow to react to adjustments by the Warriors, and James needs someone who can be flexible with his plans and is an excellent defensive mind as well. Stevens is the perfect coach for James, as he is able to bring out the best in his players and knows how to mask his team’s deficiencies. It would be great to see him and the Warriors’ Steve Kerr engage in a chess match on the court.
If only this could happen in real life. It would be fun to watch a seven-game series between the Cavs and Warriors fighting for the championship with an equal chance of both teams of winning it all.
We can dream, can’t we?