- The Lakers have a young core that has shown some promise.
- History suggests LeBron James will make his new teammates better.
- In each of his previous stops, James’ teammates have seen their true shooting percentage get a bump in LeBron’s first season.
LeBron James has agreed to a four-year, $153.3 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. LA (+350) instantly becomes one of the favorites to win the championship. But if another superstar doesn’t join James in Los Angeles, his new teammates will need to take a step forward to meet oddsmakers’ expectations. History suggests Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and the other young talent on the Lakers’ roster will get better playing alongside LeBron.
When LeBron leaves, his former teammates struggle. In 2014, LeBron left South Beach for Cleveland. Despite having Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and much of the core (eight players total) that won 54 games and reached the NBA Finals in 2013-14, the Miami Heat went 37-45 and failed to make the postseason. The table below shows how the true shooting percentage of James’ old running mates changed from 2013-14 (with LeBron) to 2014-15 (without the King):
All eight players saw their true shooting percentage decrease. Combined, those players had a true shooting percentage of 57.8% when LeBron wore the same jersey but only 52.6% when he wasn’t playing with them. Cleveland’s holdovers when LeBron ditched the Cavs in 2010 suffered a similar fate.
Again, all of LeBron’s previous Cavalier teammates saw their true shooting percentage decline, likely leaving them wishing the league’s best player was still on the court with them.
The LeBron bump is real. In 2014, James went home, joining a Cavs team that included six players from the previous season. Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson saw significant improvements in true shooting percentage, as did the rest of team as a whole (52.5% to 55.8%).
Cleveland’s progression mirrored Miami’s in 2010-11. By adding LeBron, all seven Heat players from the 2009-10 season saw a jump in true shooting percentage.
The changes in true shooting percentage can’t all be attributed to LeBron, but there is a clear pattern of his new teammates improving and of those he left behind slumping. This should mean good things for Ball, Ingram and the young talent on the Lakers’ roster. For Cleveland, it’ll always have the 2016 championship.
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