LeBron James vs. superteams in the mid-to-late 2010s:
On draft night in June of 2014, Andrew Wiggins, the incredibly highly touted SG/SF from Kansas, was selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Shortly after, Wiggins was sent to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a blockbuster trade that would put the All-Star triple-double machine, Kevin Love, in a Cavaliers jersey.
LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. Within months of one big three superteam falling, a new one had formed. However, there was a naturally occurring superteam developing in the West Coast, as Travis Schlenk had been building a Golden State Warriors dynasty through the draft.
In their first year together, the new Cavaliers met the deadly offensive attack lead by MVP Steph Curry and Klay Thompson in the 2015 NBA Finals. However, Kevin Love was out of the entire series with a groin injury and Kyrie fractured his kneecap at the end of Game 1.
LeBron and the Cavs fell to the Warriors in 6, and it became apparent that the two superteams would be meeting many more times in June. It was still unknown what Cleveland could do at full strength.
The following season, Steph repeated as MVP and the Warriors went 73-9, eclipsing the 1995-1996 championship Chicago Bulls to have the best regular-season record in NBA history.
Interestingly, Steve Kerr was a member of both teams.
Many people around the sport of basketball believed that this Warriors team was the greatest team in NBA history, as they touted the best record ever, had the best backcourt in the NBA with Klay and Steph, an All-Star disruptor in Draymond Green, a Finals MVP in Andre Iguodala, and a solid supporting cast.
The offensive firepower that this Warriors superteam had cannot be overstated.
Nonetheless, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers did what some considered impossible.
The entire series was a battle, and Kevin Love struggled, prompting Tristan Thompson to step up, and Kyrie and LeBron to put the team on their backs.
Game 7 was undoubtedly one of the greatest games in sports history, finishing one of the greatest series ever, creating one of the best stories ever, featuring one of the greatest athletes ever making one of the greatest plays ever, you get the point. If only LeBron had finished the hammer on Draymond…
After defeating the Warriors 93-89, LeBron won Finals MVP with one of the most impressive playoff runs ever. He averaged 26.3 PPG, 9.5 RPG, and 7.6 APG for the playoffs, and 29.7, 11.3, and 8.9, respectively, on .494 FG% and .371 3PT% for the Finals.
With the help of a dazzling Kyrie Irving, LeBron James delivered on his promise and brought a championship to Cleveland in what I consider not only his most impressive and greatest achievement, but one of the most impressive achievements in the history of sports.
The Warriors, one of the greatest teams ever, added one of the most skilled players and pure scorers in NBA history that summer. Kevin Durant was a Warrior. At this point, to say that Golden State was a superteam would be a gross understatement.
Despite LeBron putting up astronomical stats and hitting multiple game-winners, the next two years of playoffs ended the same way, the Warriors dominating the Cavs. With KD, the Warriors beat the Cavs in two consecutive Finals and only lost one game.
In 2018, Kyrie was gone, Dan Gilbert could not surround LeBron with more talent, and the Cavaliers superteam was no more.
While the Los Angeles Clippers tried with Lob City, and the New York Knicks got the right players at the wrong times of their careers, there were only two superteams in the mid-late 2010s, and the Finals matchups reflect that.
The second half of the decade was defined by the Cavs and Warriors, and while the Warriors won three out of the four consecutive matchups, they only played once at full strength before Kevin Durant made one of the more controversial free-agent decisions that the NBA had ever seen.
At the end of the decade, LeBron James came to the Los Angeles Lakers, but injuries to him and the whole team caused the Lakers to miss the playoffs in the 2018-2019 season.