LeBron Teammate #11: J.R. Smith
Despite J.R. Smith’s many flaws as a basketball player, he ranks as one of LeBron’s better teammates. Early in his career, Smith bounced around the NBA even though he was a talented scorer with above-average athleticism. It wasn’t until he went to the Cleveland Cavaliers that he began to live up to that potential. Playing alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, Smith became a reliable role player who could knock down shots on the perimeter like few others could.
During the 2015-16 season, Smith started 77 games with the Cavs and averaged 12.4 points while shooting a blistering 40% on 6.6 3-point attempts per game. He was even better in the playoffs that year during the Cavs title run, drilling 43.0% of his 7.2 3-point attempts per game.
Going up against a 73-win Golden State Warriors team left the Cavs with little margin for error, and Smith’s shooting allowed him to stay on the floor and play the third-most minutes of any player on the team. Of course, while Smith helped LeBron win a championship, his infamous mistake in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals against the Warriors might’ve cost him one.
With time left on the clock, Smith had the ball with a chance to take the lead, but he wasn’t aware of how much time was left in the game. LeBron’s frustrated reaction went viral, and a month later he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. Smith gives, and Smith takes away. Ironically, the Lakers would later sign Smith, and he would go on to win another title with LeBron, though he played a minor role. Still, he makes the cut.