LeBron James’ best teammates of his NBA career — ranked

Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers
Getty Images | Jason Miller

LeBron James has spent 16 years — nearly half of his life — playing in the NBA. Along the way, he’s played for three different franchises, won three championships and led 13 teams to the playoffs. He’s played alongside many players during his years on the court, including surefire Hall of Famers and so-so talent that James helped elevate to temporary greatness.

When it comes to being a great teammate, it’s not all about winning rings. Sometimes it’s simply about chemistry and overall production.

Here, we’ve ranked the best teammates of the King’s NBA career, from his first run with the Cleveland Cavaliers to his current stint with the Los Angeles Lakers. And we’ve saved the best for last.

25. Shaquille O’Neal

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2009-2010)

As far as a career resume goes, Shaq might be the best player who ever shared a locker room with LeBron James, but their actual time playing alongside one another wasn’t very fruitful. It was the penultimate season of O’Neal’s storied career, and he ended up posting career-low stats in several categories. The 2009-2010 season was the last of James’ first stint with Cleveland, and it was the only time he and O’Neal were teammates.

shaq cavaliers photo
Getty Images | Gregory Shamus

24. Lance Stephenson

Teammates: Los Angeles Lakers (2018-)

After Lance Stephenson, then with the Indiana Pacers, made headlines for blowing in James’ ear while guarding him in the NBA playoffs, nobody thought these two would end up being teammates. Stephenson has played with seven franchises since 2010 and is currently playing alongside James in L.A. He’s not made his way into the Lakers’ starting rotation, but Stephenson clearly has a competitive effect on James, reportedly goading him into scoring 51 points in a game this season.

lance stephenson lakers photo
Getty Images | Sean M. Haffey

23. Richard Jefferson

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2015-2017)

On the tail end of a solid NBA career, Richard Jefferson ended up helping James win a title with the Cavaliers in 2016. In less than two full seasons playing alongside James in Cleveland, Jefferson’s numbers were minimal, but he gave the team a lift during the 2016 NBA Finals coming off the bench. If Jefferson could’ve been teammates with James in the mid-2000s, they could have been a truly dominant duo.

richard jefferson cavaliers photo
Getty Images | Jason Miller

22. Drew Gooden

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2004-2008)

One of James’ go-to guys from his first stint with the Cavs, Drew Gooden played alongside him for most of four seasons. In every one of those seasons, Gooden averaged a double-digit scoring line and at least eight rebounds per game. In 2007, Gooden pulled his weight during James’ first run to the NBA Finals, when he led all Cavs starters in shooting percentage and was third in points per game during the playoffs.

drew gooden cavaliers photo
Getty Images | Gregory Shamus

21. Udonis Haslem

Teammates: Miami Heat (2010-2014)

Haslem has played his entire NBA career with the Miami Heat and therefore played alongside James during his four-season stint with the team. Granted, Haslem wasn’t putting up huge numbers during those seasons and was not a starter for most of the games, but he helped the King win his first two championships. It could be argued that Haslem is more closely identified with Heat basketball than any other teammate James has ever had.

udonis haslem photo
Getty Images | Christian Petersen

20. Carlos Boozer

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2003-2004)

Carlos Boozer only spent a single season playing alongside LeBron James, making this duo a huge what-if scenario in the minds of Cavs fans. Before James was drafted in 2003, Boozer was Cleveland’s star player, and during the King’s rookie season, the two combined for about 36 points per game. Boozer left the Cavs as a free agent before James’ sophomore season and went on to have two All-Star seasons with the Utah Jazz.

carlos boozer cavaliers photo
Getty Images | Lisa Blumenfeld

19. Delonte West

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2008-2010)

One of the more hard-nosed teammates James has shared a locker room with, Delonte West was a key role player during the tail end of James’ first run with the Cavs, including the team’s outstanding 2008-2009 season. West was a consistent three-point shooting threat and was one of the team’s top scorers in all three of his seasons playing with James. Unfortunately, an unconfirmed but notorious rumor involving West and James’ mother hurts West’s standing on this list.

delonte west lebron photo
Getty Images | Gregory Shamus

18. Antawn Jamison

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2010)

Jamison was already an established NBA veteran when he joined James’ Cavaliers late in the 2009-2010 season. He and James only played 36 total games together, nearly half of which were in the playoffs, meaning they didn’t spend much time as teammates. But during those games, Jamison proved to be a fitting sidekick to James, as he was second on the team in points per game and led the team in rebounding.

antawn jamison cavaliers photo
Getty Images | Chris Chambers

17. Larry Hughes

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2005-2008)

Hughes was one of the few consistent scorers James was teammates with during his first couple seasons with the Cavs. The journeyman was the team’s second-leading scorer (behind James) in 2005-2006, averaging 15.5 points per game that year. Hughes was a key member of the Cavs 2006-2007 team that went to the NBA Finals, starting all 18 games he played in and averaging 11.3 points per game in the playoffs.

larry hughes cavaliers photo
Getty Images | Gregory Shamus

16. Lonzo Ball

Teammates: Los Angeles Lakers (2018-)

Arguably the most high-profile player to share the locker room with James in Los Angeles, Lonzo Ball is still trying to prove himself as an elite teammate for the King. Many of Ball’s stats have decreased since James joined the Lakers, especially his assists per game. Can Ball climb higher on this list? If you ask James, he’ll tell you the young player “doesn’t realize how great he is.”

lonzo ball photo
Getty Images | Sean M. Haffey

15. Mario Chalmers

Teammates: Miami Heat (2010-2014)

When LeBron James came to Miami in 2010, Mario Chalmers agreed to give his new co-worker his jersey number. If that’s not the definition of a good teammate, I don’t know what is! In addition to that kind gesture, Chalmers was instrumental in helping James win his first NBA title after a pair of huge games in the 2012 Finals. In the end, Chalmers lasted through all four of James’ seasons in Miami — but it wasn’t easy being the King’s teammate, according to what he said about the experience later.

mario chalmers heat photo
Getty Images | Kevin C. Cox

14. Kyle Korver

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2017-2018)

One of the best three-point shooters in NBA history, Kyle Korver was huge off the bench in two seasons alongside James that ended in disappointment. In the media, Korver was painted as the role player James desperately needed to compete with the Golden State Warriors, but ultimately the Cavs lost to the Warriors in the NBA Finals in both of their seasons together. In 2016-17, Korver led the team in three-point shooting percentage and was responsible for 10.7 points per game.

kyle korver photo
Getty Images | Harry How

13. Kyle Kuzma

Teammates: Los Angeles Lakers (2018-)

Unlike Lonzo Ball, James’ other young Lakers teammate, Kyle Kuzma has seen his numbers increase since the King came to town. So far in the 2018-19 season, Kuzma is second only to James in total points scored on the Lakers, averaging 16.4 per game. Time has yet to tell if Kuzma’s numbers will stay high, taking him even higher on the list of James’ best teammates.

kyle kuzma photo
Getty Images | Christian Petersen

12. Matthew Dellavedova

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2014-2016)

James and “Delly” only spent two seasons together as teammates. But in the minds of Cavs fans, it was a magical time. The Australian baller didn’t top many stat lines during his years alongside the King, but he played with an intensity that was nearly unmatched. Dellavedova’s defensive performance, holding Stephen Curry to zero field goals when guarding him in Game Two of the 2015 NBA Finals, made him a Cleveland legend. The Cavs lost that series, but Dellavedova was back for the team’s 2015-2016 season, when James finally earned the Cavaliers a ring.

dellavedova cava photo
Getty Images | Kevin C. Cox

11. Anderson Verejao

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2004-2010; 2014-2016)

The “Wild Thing” was a teammate of James’ during both of his stints with the Cleveland Cavs. This Brazilian-born star was a solid bench option while playing alongside No. 23 and was revered for his defensive and rebounding abilities. Varejao’s best seasons came when James left Cleveland for Miami, but these two spent a lot of memorable seasons playing together, even if they never resulted in a ring.

anderson varejao photo
Getty Images | Kevin C. Cox

10. J.R. Smith

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2015-2018)

It’s a shame that the most lasting image of J.R. Smith and LeBron James came after a huge blunder during their last playoff series together in 2018. These two appeared to be great teammates during the tail end of James’ second Cavs run, including when Smith was a key starter en route to the team’s championship win in 2016. Once Smith became more of a role player in the following two seasons, his numbers dipped, but his shirtless celebration during the Cavs’ celebration parade made him a Cleveland hero forever.

jr smith cavaliers photo
Getty Images | Maddie Meyer

9. Tristan Thompson

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2014-2018)

One of the best rebounders to play alongside James, Tristan Thompson was a key player, mostly coming off the bench, during the King’s second stint with the Cavs. Thompson was never a huge scorer, but he averaged about nine rebounds per game during his four seasons playing next to James. It could be argued that Thompson was a better player without James, but he never would have won that ring in 2016 if not for No. 23.

tristan thompson photo
Getty Images | Hannah Foslien

8. Shane Battier

Teammates: Miami Heat (2011-2014)

Late in his NBA career, Shane Battier proved to be a key addition to the Miami Heat, helping James win his first two titles. Battier’s insane three-point shooting percentage (57.7) and 11.6 points per game in the 2012 NBA Finals were a major factor behind the Heat winning the championship that year. Battier again came through when it counted for the Heat in 2013, scoring 18 points in Game Seven of the Finals that year for another championship. Battier helped bury the notion that James couldn’t win basketball games in June.

shane battier heat photo
Getty Images | Christian Petersen

7. Mo Williams

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2008-2010; 2015-2017)

Mo Williams is another teammate who spanned both of James’ stints in Cleveland. Williams seemed to complement James well from 2008 to 2010, averaging 15.8 and 17.8 points per game in his first two seasons alongside the King. Williams was a huge part of the Cavs’ franchise-best 66-win season in 2008-2009. After playing elsewhere, Williams was reunited with James on the Cavs in 2015-2016, winning a championship in a backup role.

mo williams cavaliers photo
Getty Images | Maddie Meyer

6. Ray Allen

Teammates: Miami Heat (2012-2014)

One of the few Hall of Famers to play alongside James, legendary shooter Ray Allen spent two seasons at the end of his career helping the King in Miami. Allen was strictly a bench player at that point, but he was a big part of the Heat championship team in 2013. Allen’s numbers while playing with James were the lowest of his career, but he was still averaging about 10 points per game in both seasons. In 2018, Allen revealed that James was one of his two favorite teammates of his 18-season career.

ray allen heat photo
Getty Images | Andy Lyons

5. Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2003-2010), Miami Heat (2010-2011)

No player spent more seasons as a teammate of James’ than Cavaliers legend “Big Z.” Ilgauskas and James played together for eight productive seasons in Cleveland and Miami but never won a title together. During James’ first stint with the Cavs, Ilgauskas was the team’s second-leading scorer nearly every season and was also a solid rebounder, nearly averaging a double-double in 2007-2008. Ilgauskas was particularly invaluable during James’ first run to the NBA Finals in 2007.

ilgauskas cavaliers photo
Getty Images | Christian Petersen

4. Kevin Love

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2014-2018)

From the outside, the off-the-court relationship between James and Kevin Love in Cleveland appeared awkward, but on the court they did some truly great things. Love was a powerhouse before joining James and the Cavs in 2014, and, like Chris Bosh before him, his numbers dipped a bit, but the stats were still impressive once they united. During four seasons playing alongside James, Love nearly averaged a double-double every year, routinely scoring 17 points per game and grabbing nine rebounds. Love was a major part of helping James win his third NBA title in 2016.

kevin love cavaliers photo
Getty Images | Jason Miller

3. Chris Bosh

Teammates: Miami Heat (2010-2014)

A legitimate star in his own right, Bosh’s stats took a hit after teaming up with James in Miami, but it proved to be for the greater good. As a member of the Heat’s infamous “Big Three,” which also included James and Dwyane Wade, Bosh and his teammates would win two NBA titles and would make the Finals every season they played together. Bosh averaged about 17 points and seven rebounds per game in his four seasons as James’ teammate.

chris bosh heat photo
Getty Images | Mike Ehrmann

2. Kyrie Irving

Teammates: Cleveland Cavaliers (2014-2017)

Their partnership may have ended in a very nasty way, but Kyrie Irving and LeBron James were a truly frightening one-two punch during their three seasons together in Cleveland. During that span, Irving was averaging more than 20 points per game, which is something almost no other of James’ former teammates can boast. For as great as Irving was in the regular season alongside James, he was even better in the playoffs, averaging more than 25 points per game during the Cavs’ 2016 title run. The only reason Irving doesn’t top this list is because he apparently hated playing with James.

kyrie irving lebron finals photo
Getty Images | Gregory Shamus

1. Dwyane Wade

Teammates: Miami Heat (2010-2014), Cleveland Cavaliers (2017-2018)

When two athletes are amazing together during play and also appear to genuinely like each other, it’s a beautiful thing. Miami Heat icon Dwyane Wade is the ultimate teammate for LeBron James and was the man most responsible for helping the King finally win his first (and second) NBA title. Wade nearly topped James in points per game during the pair’s first season together in 2010-2011 and managed to average more than 20 points per game during four seasons with him in Miami. Wade and James reunited in Cleveland in 2017 for one shaky season, but it didn’t hurt their off-the-court friendship a bit.

dwyane wade lebron heat photo
Getty Images | Mike Ehrmann

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About the Author
Clint Davis
Clint has watched way too many TV shows and movies and makes a great partner for trivia night. He lives in Cincinnati with his wife, baby son and two massive dogs.

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