LeBron James is once again leading his team to the NBA Finals. This team isn’t like most of those in the past, though. He doesn’t have Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh by his side. No sidekick in Kyrie Irving. LeBron has put this squad on his back and carried them to this year’s NBA Finals. However, even though LeBron has been surrounded by some great players in his career, this isn’t the first team he has taken a squad of this caliber to the championship. In 2007 LeBron led Cleveland, whose second best player was Larry Hughes, to the Finals
The real question here is, which year was more impressive for LeBron: 2007 or 2018?
LeBron has put up magnificent numbers in the playoffs both seasons and had incredible games to get his team to the Finals. If we journey back to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2007 where the Cavaliers played the Pistons, LeBron had what I believe is his most dominant game ever. I’ve never seen a player close a game like he did by scoring the Cavaliers last 25 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a game-winning layup with 2.2 seconds remaining.
Let’s look at each roster James was surrounded by.
The 2007 squad consisted of LeBron James, Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varejao, Eric Snow, Sasha Pavlovic, Damon Jones, Donyell Marshall, and Daniel Gibson.
The 2018 team started with LeBron James, Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder, Iman Shumpert, Tristan Thompson, Dwyane Wade, Kyle Korver, and JR Smith. After the team struggled early, the Cavs made some moves and dealt away Thomas, Frye, Rose, Crowder, Shumpert, Wade and return received Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., George Hill, and Rodney Hood.
The Cavaliers’ second top scorer during the regular season in 2007, Larry Hughes, scored 14.9 points per game. This season, Kevin Love was the second highest scorer averaging 17.6 points per game.
This season LeBron has carried his team through the playoffs with multiple incredible games, including three elimination games. In the three series played so far, LeBron is averaging 34.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game.
In the three elimination games, James statlines were 45/8/7 (vs Indiana), 46/11/9 (vs Boston), and 35/15/9 (vs Boston).
In 2007, LeBron only averaged 25.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.0 assists per game in the playoffs.
James has also improved his true shooting percentage from 51.6% (2007) to 61.9% (2018), and also has a higher usage percentage, giving statistical proof that the Cavaliers are using LeBron more this time around.
To go along with the narrative of LeBron’s stats, let’s look at those around him.
Kevin Love started ice cold in the playoffs this year He’s only averaged 13.9 points per game on 38.8% shooting. Kyle Korver has been the next highest scorer, averaging 9.8 points per game.
In 2007, Ilgauskas averaged 12.6 points, Gooden averaged 11.4, and Hughes averaged 11.3 per game.
By looking at just the rosters alone you’d think that 2007 was a tougher year for LeBron. Statistics are showing that LeBron is doing much more this year than 2007. This is mainly due to a lack of production from the players around him. Players like Love and Smith have gone silent, forcing LeBron to take the game into his own hands and not be a pass-first player like we’ve often seen. A roster change-up halfway through the season and players disappearing during the playoffs lead me to believe this NBA Finals run has been more impressive than the one in 2007.