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What if LeBron Played for the 2022 Cleveland Cavaliers

In 2018, Cleveland fans were devastated to learn that All-Star LeBron James was leaving once again. After bringing a championship to Cleveland in 2016, LeBron felt it was time to move on. James elected to become a part of the Los Angeles Lakers. His first season with the Lakers was a struggle but, with the help of Anthony Davis, LeBron brought a championship to L.A. in 2020.

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Since the championship, the Lakers have been struggling. Last season the team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Pheonix Suns. After that season the Lakers let Alex Caruso walk. Caruso is one of the best defensive players in the league. On top of that, the Lakers also traded away Kyle Kuzma and some other players for Russell Westbrook. At first, fans were terrified. It was a common belief that the Lakers were a lock to win it all. That was not the case. With Anthony Davis’s season being filled with injury and Westbrook’s extremely subpar performance, the Lakers were officially ruled out of playoff contention (by the Suns. Again).

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Because of these recent struggles, fans have started to wonder what it would be like if LeBron played for the current day Cleveland Cavaliers. This season’s Cleveland team is one of the biggest surprises of the season. Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen have been amazing all season and the addition of Lauri Markkanen has been great. The Cavaliers also drafted Evan Mobley who has been incredible for a rookie. The Cavs have outperformed people’s expectations by a mile. If LeBron was on this team they could be on a whole new level.

The Simulation

For this simulation, I am going to take LeBron off of the Lakers roster and add him to Cleveland’s. I will simulate the season, stopping at the all-star break and the end of the regular season to check out stats and news around the league.

The Cavs’ new starting lineup:
PG:
Darius Garland
SG: Collin Sexton
SF: LeBron James
PF: Evan Mobley
C: Jarrett Allen

Simulation to the All-Star Break

I simulated the season up to the All-Star break and this is what happened:
Record: 
39-20 (2nd in the East)
Season Awards:
LeBron James: Player of the Week 1x
All-Star Participants:
LeBron James (All-Star Game Team Captain)
Award Race: 
LeBron James: 2nd in MVP voting, 2nd in Defensive Player of the Year voting
Kevin Love: 2nd in Sixth Man of the Year voting
Darius Garland: 4th in Most Improved Player of the Year voting
Player Stats:
LeBron James: 24.0 pts, 7.6 reb, 9.2 ast, 1.5 stl, 1.1 blks
Darius Garland: 21.2 pts, 2.7 reb, 7.5 ast, 1.3 stl
Collin Sexton: 16.9 pts, 2.2 reb, 2.7 ast
Caris Levert: 15.2 pts, 2.3 reb, 4.0 ast
Kevin Love: 11.8 pts, 10.1 reb, 3.5 ast
Jarrett Allen: 10.5 pts, 9.8 reb, 2.3 ast, 1.4 blk
Evan Mobley: 10.1 pts, 7.1 reb, 1.0 ast, 1.3 blk
Lauri Markkanen: 7.2 pts, 3.5 reb, 0.7 ast

Simulation to the Playoffs

Next, I simulated to the end of the regular season. Here is what happened.
I simulated the season up to the All-Star break and this is what happened:
Record: 
60-22 (1st in the East)
Season Awards:
LeBron James: Player of the Week 3x, All-NBA 1st Team, All-NBA Defensive 2nd Team
Evan Mobley: All-Rookie 2nd Team
Award Race: 
No one ended up winning anything.
Player Stats:
LeBron James: 24.0 pts, 7.8 reb, 9.3 ast, 1.4 stl, 1.0 blks
Darius Garland: 21.4 pts, 2.7 reb, 7.7 ast, 1.2 stl
Collin Sexton: 16.8 pts, 2.3 reb, 2.4 ast
Caris Levert: 15.8 pts, 2.6 reb, 4.4 ast, 1.0 stl
Kevin Love: 11.8 pts, 10.1 reb, 3.7 ast
Jarrett Allen: 10.5 pts, 10.3 reb, 2.2 ast, 1.4 blk
Evan Mobley: 9.8 pts, 7.2 reb, 1.0 ast, 1.5 blk
Lauri Markkanen: 7.4 pts, 3.5 reb, 0.7 ast

Playoffs

First Round: Cleveland (1) vs. Philadelphia (8) = Cleveland Wins (4-0)
Second Round: Cleveland (1) vs. Miami (4) = Cleveland Wins (4-1)
Conference Finals: Cleveland (1) vs. Brooklyn (3) = Brooklyn Wins (1-4)
Brooklyn wins the NBA Finals against the Grizzlies. Kyrie Irving wins Finals MVP

The Lakers’ season without LeBron

The Lakers finished 13th in the West with a record of 31-51.

Conclusion

With LeBron, Cleveland made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Adding LeBron seemed to take away Evan Mobley’s opportunity to develop as quickly as he as this season. The same goes for Lauri Markkanen. LeBron also seemed to take the scoring load away from the big men. Do you think LeBron would be a good fit for the Cleveland Cavaliers? Or do you think the team is just fine the way it is now?

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