Kevin Durant caused quite a stir this week with his comments about LeBron James and the difficulty in finding teammates for the all-time great.
We’ve heard talk before about how LeBron is a tough guy to play with, especially if you’re a superstar. James is traditionally great for the careers of perhaps one superstar and awesome for role players whose games fit along with him. In many ways, Michael Jordan was the same way.
Scottie Pippen was the perfect Robin to MJ’s Batman and the likes of Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, John Paxson, and others were rather one-dimensional, but valuable role players whose games meshed with His Airness. All of that said, I got to thinking about what collection of active players could be grouped with LeBron to create the ultimate starting five.
As a matter of fact, when I put this squad together, I’m going to try my best to stay within the realm of possibility.
Obviously, James is one piece of the five-component pie, but here are the other four. Oh yeah, I hope you’re not overly attached to Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram or Lonzo Ball. Because in this scenario, all three of the promising young Lakers would have to be shipped out.
PG: Malcolm Brogdon
The 2016-17 Rookie of the Year is having the best season of his career. The 25-year-old is averaging 15.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He’s also making an otherworldly 49 percent of his threes and a league-leading 97 percent of his free throws. If you’re thinking about temperament, they come much meeker than Brogdon. One of his nicknames is Humble Moses.
At 6’5″, Brogdon can play either guard position and he’s a solid defender. His size, shooting ability, passing, willingness to defend and humility, he might be perhaps the most ideal teammate for James. Brogdon is also scheduled to be a restricted free agent next season.
SG: Rodney Hood
I know he had his ups and downs as James’ teammate in Cleveland, but that could have been an issue more with head coach Ty Lue more than beef with James. Hood is an unrestricted free agent after this season and having a strong campaign.
He’s a long and lean defender capable of defending either wing position. He’s also making 38 percent of his threes and averaging 13.1 points per game. If he’s in the backcourt with Brogdon, the Lakers would have some extraordinary length, versatility, and shooting.
SF: Kawhi Leonard
We’re moving LeBron to power forward for this fantastic, but feasible squad. Leonard is one of the most low-maintenance superstars in the sport. However, make no mistake about it, the quiet, soon-to-be free agent is a superstar. Despite what former coach Gregg Popovich says, Leonard looks like a leader now.
He’s currently leading the Toronto Raptors to the best record in the NBA and his all-around game is nearly unmatched. What makes him such a good teammate for LeBron is his unselfishness, defense and the ability to become a spot-up shooter.
Leonard can also get his own shot, but he has no issues falling back when LeBron wants to take over. He’s the perfect complement for LeBron, no matter what Durant says.
C: Anthony Davis
Here’s where the Lakers would have to empty the cupboard. If you believe the rumors about Davis’ plans to make it to the Lakers ASAP, then you know it’s a possibility L.A. would package Ingram, Kuzma, Ball and a draft pick in an effort to lure The Brow to the City of Angels.
If you know anything about basketball, I don’t have to sell you on Davis’ talent. As an athletic finisher, rim protector and all-around superstar, Davis would be the best big men LeBron has ever played with, and that includes Chris Bosh–who is criminally underrated.
It’s just a fantasy, but this team is packed with length talent and it’s perfect for James.