How was LeBron able to take teams of nobodies to NBA finals but is on the verge of missing another playoffs with all-time stars around him?


You are correct that the 2007 and 2018 teams that Lebron took to the Finals probably had no business being in the Finals; his second and third best players on those teams were Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Larry Hughes and Kevin Love, JR Smith respectively. Without Lebron it’s likely they would have been in the lottery.

For Lebron’s 2011–2017 Finals teams those had some perennial all stars Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. the 2020 team he had Anthony Davis. Those aren’t guaranteed Finals teams by themselves – but you put prime Lebron on those teams and the Finals berth is almost a given.

The second part of the question is basically equivalent to ‘why do the Lakers suck this year?’

And the answer is a number of factors

  • Westbrook wasn’t a good fit (like everybody said at the beginning of the season)
  • AD and Lebron missed a lot of games
  • Lebron is still performing at a very high level but he is not the same player that willed the Heat back from 3–2 down staving off elimination and back to back 41 point games in the 2016 Finals or averaged a 30 point triple double. This isn’t 2012 Lebron or 2018 Lebron.
  • AD has been very inconsistent
  • Lakers traded depth for aging veterans. Kuzma and Caruso were noticeable losses. In exchange they got old Deandre, old Dwight and old Melo. That’s not enough to make up for those losses.