LeBron James on the 1988-89 Cleveland Cavaliers?

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Posted

LBJDoubleDips3.jpg

I just had a vision, in the vision LeBron had been put in a time machine and had been drafted 7th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the '87 Draft. James would be drafted to a completely a more talented young team than the one he was actually drafted by in 03. How good can the 88-89 Cavaliers be with James on the roster? Can they win a championship? Without James the 88-89 Cavaliers won 57 games, they were an elite defensive team finishing third in opponents points per game (101.2) and second in defensive rating (103). This Cavaliers team would be extremely fun to watch with the perimeter shooting of Mark Price and the athleticism of James and Larry Nance.

C Brad Daugherty

F Larry Nance

F LeBron James

G Ron Harper

G Mark Price

Bench: Craig Ehlo, Hot Rod Williams, Mike Sanders, Darnell Valentine, Tree Rollins, Chris Dudley

Coach: Lenny Wilkens

Keep in mind that the only legit threats against the Cavs in the East are the Detroit Pistons who breezed through the playoff en route to a championship that year and maybe the Chicago Bulls, Larry Bird only played in 6 games and the Celtics did not make noise in the playoffs. This would also be LeBron's second year in the league so he would only be 19-20 years old. He was still very good though these were his season averages for the Cavaliers in 04-05.

LeBron James: 27 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.2 assists on 47% FG, 35% 3PT (105 Made), 75% FT, 2.2 steals

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Posted

That would be a beastly offensive team with Lebron. If they clicked chemistry-wise they could win some titles for sure.

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Posted

They would've totally won the championship

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Mark Price and LeBron = GOAT

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Posted

Championship caliber team. I think they would be legit.

But remember that even JORDAN had trouble against that defense. So I'm not so sure LeBron could beat the bad-boys. Especially in his second year. (2009 LeBron Maybe)

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Don't expect Lebron to put the same numbers in the 80's and 90's,as he was doing in the 00's.And no,they wouldn't beat the Bad Boys,they were to good,to strong,and to dirty those years.

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Posted

I can see them winning at least one title.

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Well, they'd be legit title contenders but I doubt that they'd win the Pistons.

A Pistons team that swept the Celtics, the Bucks and the Lakers. They swept every team in their way apart from Jordan's Bulls who they beat in six.

That wouldn't lose to this Cavaliers team. A sophmore James wouldn't make that much of a difference in order for the Cavs to beat an all-time great team.

Of course though, they'd have their share of opportunities in the early 90's to win a championship or championships.

IMO, they could win one but not more against the Bulls.

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I think if Lebron was on the Cavs right now, we would have a very similar team to the 2012 Thunder

Kyrie = Westbrook

Dion = Harden

Lebron = KD

Tristan = Ibaka

Andy = Perkins

Gee = Sefolosha

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Posted

LeBron softie in the 80's. Hmmmmm...

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That would've been amazing to watch indeed, that's one of the greatest Cavs teams and then you add LeBron... They wouldn't win a title from the get go but if the team kept the core together I can definitely see them winning a title in the 90's.

Breaking it down:

Price is just one of the most underrated PG's ever, very similar to Nash, slight worse passing, also probably slight wors shooter, but better defense, stayed with the Cavs 'til '95.

Harper was trated like in '90 but if they could've somehow kept that would've been even better. Not many people remember or know about but he was fantastic in his first years, really skilled and athletic, but he suffered an injury that robbed him of plenty of his athleticism. Still was able to be pretty good and then in his years with the Bulls transformed into a scrappy player with great perimeter D.

Daugherty career ended in '94 due to injuries but he was a really good center, lots of skill, 20/10/4 guy, on good FG%.

Nance was getting older but still really athletic, really good defensive player, could score 20 per game, also really good rebounder and nice passer.

Hot Rod stayed 'til 95, a PF/C that was solid in many areas, played some good D.

Ehlo also a good, underrated, player. Plus they had at some point or another, Kerr, Dudley, Rollins, Gerald Wilkins, Tyrone Hill....

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Posted

Don't expect Lebron to put the same numbers in the 80's and 90's,as he was doing in the 00's.And no,they wouldn't beat the Bad Boys,they were to good,to strong,and to dirty those years.

Why should one not expect James to replicate the same numbers? The 90s are very similar to the 00s in terms of pace and style of play. James could easily adapt to the physicality of the 80s he's 6'8 250 lbs., he's one of the most physical players in the league today. James is huge compared to most SF's today imagine the 80s, you had a ton of guys built like Kevin Durant. In the 80s statistics were pretty much higher across the board. The 88-89 Cavaliers were considered a slow paced team in the 80s today they would be the fastest paced team in the league. The 04-05 Cavaliers ran about 89 possessions a game, while the 88-89 Cavaliers ran about 98 possessions a game. Those are more opportunities for James to score, assist, etc. James is one of the biggest talents in NBA history, he's gonna be great in any era you put him in. In today's game he's considered an average three point shooter in the 80s he would be considered one of the best three point shooters. IMO James puts up basically the same numbers, but I do agree they don't beat the Pistons they destroyed everyone in the playoffs that year.

That would've been amazing to watch indeed, that's one of the greatest Cavs teams and then you add LeBron... They wouldn't win a title from the get go but if the team kept the core together I can definitely see them winning a title in the 90's.

Breaking it down:

Price is just one of the most underrated PG's ever, very similar to Nash, slight worse passing, also probably slight wors shooter, but better defense, stayed with the Cavs 'til '95.

Harper was trated like in '90 but if they could've somehow kept that would've been even better. Not many people remember or know about but he was fantastic in his first years, really skilled and athletic, but he suffered an injury that robbed him of plenty of his athleticism. Still was able to be pretty good and then in his years with the Bulls transformed into a scrappy player with great perimeter D.

Daugherty career ended in '94 due to injuries but he was a really good center, lots of skill, 20/10/4 guy, on good FG%.

Nance was getting older but still really athletic, really good defensive player, could score 20 per game, also really good rebounder and nice passer.

Hot Rod stayed 'til 95, a PF/C that was solid in many areas, played some good D.

Ehlo also a good, underrated, player. Plus they had at some point or another, Kerr, Dudley, Rollins, Gerald Wilkins, Tyrone Hill....

IMO this team would meet the Bulls year after year in the ECF in the 90s. Without James these Cavaliers gave the Bulls problems in the RS and PS. Just imagine adding James to the mix. IMO this team could win 2-3 rings and get past the Bulls if they get it right chemistry wise. They would be one of the younger teams and would all peak at the same time. They would be a great defensive team and offensive juggernaut.

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Why should one not expect James to replicate the same numbers? The 90s are very similar to the 00s in terms of pace and style of play. James could easily adapt to the physicality of the 80s he's 6'8 250 lbs., he's one of the most physical players in the league today. James is huge compared to most SF's today imagine the 80s, you had a ton of guys built like Kevin Durant. In the 80s statistics were pretty much higher across the board. The 88-89 Cavaliers were considered a slow paced team in the 80s today they would be the fastest paced team in the league. The 04-05 Cavaliers ran about 89 possessions a game, while the 88-89 Cavaliers ran about 98 possessions a game. Those are more opportunities for James to score, assist, etc. James is one of the biggest talents in NBA history, he's gonna be great in any era you put him in. In today's game he's considered an average three point shooter in the 80s he would be considered one of the best three point shooters. IMO James puts up basically the same numbers, but I do agree they don't beat the Pistons they destroyed everyone in the playoffs that year.

We should also take into account, how all those guys would gel together. It's not the names that play ball, but the players. You see what happens with the Lakers this year.

This Cavs team of course had a better bench but the Lakers are just an example.

You have many scorers in this team and 2-3 ball handlers (=need the ball in their hands).

On the other hand, Bulls' trio worked together fine. Jordan and Pippen were perfect compliments of each other and Grant/Rodman played their part without harming the chemistry.

So we can only assume (well, we only can assume anyway). I say the Cavs would win one, maybe two, but it would be the Bulls that would dominate the era. Still.

People today, underrate and overrate Jordan, but I think that most people from both sides, don't realise the impact Jordan had. He was just from another planet and his intangibles were the biggest reason.

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Posted

That team could have great sucess if they had good chemistry.

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Posted

Why should one not expect James to replicate the same numbers? The 90s are very similar to the 00s in terms of pace and style of play. James could easily adapt to the physicality of the 80s he's 6'8 250 lbs., he's one of the most physical players in the league today. James is huge compared to most SF's today imagine the 80s, you had a ton of guys built like Kevin Durant. In the 80s statistics were pretty much higher across the board. The 88-89 Cavaliers were considered a slow paced team in the 80s today they would be the fastest paced team in the league. The 04-05 Cavaliers ran about 89 possessions a game, while the 88-89 Cavaliers ran about 98 possessions a game. Those are more opportunities for James to score, assist, etc. James is one of the biggest talents in NBA history, he's gonna be great in any era you put him in. In today's game he's considered an average three point shooter in the 80s he would be considered one of the best three point shooters. IMO James puts up basically the same numbers

James is probably the GOAT SF athlete but so say tons of guys (SF's) were built like Durant...

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even a guy like Kelly Tripucka had some good build

103540.jpg

Plus don't forget they didn't really keep track of players' weights after their rookie season.

Like I've said before with 80's/90's pace it could've helped to put some better stats compared to today but not really that much at all, plus you also got factor the stricter rules, tougher for superstars than today, plus for players that drive a lot.

If he played in the 80's he wouldn't have had a 3pt line as he grew up though. I can't comment on the future and LeBron's been really improving his 3pt shooting but apart from this season he was shooting 33% from 3pt land for his career, he wouldn't been on the same level of the best 3pt shooters from back in the day (that mostly came up without the line, not counting guys that played in the ABA), like Bird, Dale Ellis, Hodges, Trent Trucker, Price, Ainge, Scott, Kerr... When they got used to the line.

So, no, he wouldn't be one of the best 3pt shooters back then.

I agree that he could, give or take, put up the same numbers though.

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The physicality in the NBA has nothing to do with how big of a guy you are.You need to have skills,moves and brain,to be able to beat the defense of the 80's and 90's.Do not forget that back in that time,rules were very harsh,and you couldn't get a foul when you bitched out.While I do agree that Lebron is the best player in the NBA right now,the refs are extremely biased towards him and the rules are easier now.It doesn't take a bodybuilder to stop you while you are driving to the basket,or making a cheap shot while you are trying to shoot.Also,because back in that time they didn't have as much "muscles" as you may think,don't come here and tell me they were weaker.I strongly believe that Lebron most definitely wouldn't put the same numbers in the 80's and 90's.

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Without James these Cavaliers gave the Bulls problems in the RS and PS. Just imagine adding James to the mix. IMO this team could win 2-3 rings and get past the Bulls if they get it right chemistry wise. They would be one of the younger teams and would all peak at the same time. They would be a great defensive team and offensive juggernaut.

They had like 3 pretty good years with that core, gave Bulls troubles in '89, and even '92. If James started as a rookie in '89 I can see them winning 1 title farther along the way, 2 at the very max. They had to keep all the pieces together for that, and have good chemistry.

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James is probably the GOAT SF athlete but so say tons of guys (SF's) were built like Durant...

2dsmof9.jpg

33uetr6.jpg

kersey9495jpg-adc279938711f9fa_medium.jp

2h5ka5d.jpg

2wddk55.jpg

611788-chuck_person_large.jpg

2wp45zs.jpg

Marques_Johnson-3.jpg

1zwhlq1.jpg

even a guy like Kelly Tripucka had some good build

103540.jpg

Plus don't forget they didn't really keep track of players' weights after their rookie season.

Like I've said before with 80's/90's pace it could've helped to put some better stats compared to today but not really that much at all, plus you also got factor the stricter rules, tougher for superstars than today, plus for players that drive a lot.

If he played in the 80's he wouldn't have had a 3pt line as he grew up though. I can't comment on the future and LeBron's been really improving his 3pt shooting but apart from this season he was shooting 33% from 3pt land for his career, he wouldn't been on the same level of the best 3pt shooters from back in the day (that mostly came up without the line, not counting guys that played in the ABA), like Bird, Dale Ellis, Hodges, Trent Trucker, Price, Ainge, Scott, Kerr... When they got used to the line.

So, no, he wouldn't be one of the best 3pt shooters back then.

I agree that he could, give or take, put up the same numbers though.

I'm really surprised at Tripucka! Although you had guys like Wilkins and Pippen you also had SF's like Adrian Dantley and Alex English who were unusually thin. In terms of efficiency he wouldn't be among the best but in terms of makes he would, LeBron has always been a good volume three point shooter. Atleast we agree James numbers wouldn't drop, people love past eras and think any superstar from today would be worse in another era. At the end of the day basketball is basketball, it's about talent the differences between eras eventually cancel each other out.

The physicality in the NBA has nothing to do with how big of a guy you are.You need to have skills,moves and brain,to be able to beat the defense of the 80's and 90's.Do not forget that back in that time,rules were very harsh,and you couldn't get a foul when you bitched out.While I do agree that Lebron is the best player in the NBA right now,the refs are extremely biased towards him and the rules are easier now.It doesn't take a bodybuilder to stop you while you are driving to the basket,or making a cheap shot while you are trying to shoot.Also,because back in that time they didn't have as much "muscles" as you may think,don't come here and tell me they were weaker.I strongly believe that Lebron most definitely wouldn't put the same numbers in the 80's and 90's.

So James doesn't have good skills, moves or brains? Like I said the 90s are very similar to the 00s. The difference is miniscule. Jordan got a ton of superstar calls and James as a superstar would also get a lot of superstar calls. James is still getting to the line 8-10 times a game, the elite slashers of the 80s got to the line a lot. James is getting the same amount of rebounds if not more more possessions=more opportunities to rebound, James is a great passer he's still going to average 6-7 assists a game. A handcheck or hard foul throughout games isn't gonna stop James from being James.

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I'm really surprised at Tripucka! Although you had guys like Wilkins and Pippen you also had SF's like Adrian Dantley and Alex English who were unusually thin. In terms of efficiency he wouldn't be among the best but in terms of makes he would, LeBron has always been a good volume three point shooter. Atleast we agree James numbers wouldn't drop, people love past eras and think any superstar from today would be worse in another era. At the end of the day basketball is basketball, it's about talent the differences between eras eventually cancel each other out.

Yeah many people look at him being white kinda of funny looking but Kelly was really strong with a good build, in his best athletic years at least, he was 6'6, 220 lbs in his first years.

Dantley was pretty big and strong though, he should because he did most of his work in the post, that's him in the 2nd pic I posted above, even before his pro years... he was like 6'5, 210 lbs, before turning pro at 20

500-dantley-irish.jpg

Yeah Alex was thin, Durant has a similar game to his also, but then you had guys like Wilkins, Rodman, Woolridge, Pippen, Person, Marques, McCray, Dantley, Aguirre, Erving, Kersey, Worthy, Xavier, King, Kellog.... I could even bring him some guys that could also play SF like Nance, Chambers or Buck Williams.

So to say most SF's were built like Durant is far from the truth.

Yeah but again, apart from this year, he shot 33% for his career and he grew up with the 3pt line, imagine if he had only started to play that way when he first got into the NBA.

Plus in the 80's, teams/players shot way less 3's...

Yes I agree with the last sentence. Except for some things here and there, that's the way it is... It's about talent and dominance, not specifically the numbers, the raw numbers. And LeBron could display his level of dominance in any era.

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Well you have your opinion,I'm not trying to change it.I stick to mine,that Lebron wouldn't be this player in the 90's,becuase he mostly uses his body to play,he is a freak of nature,when you see 250 lbs going towards you with the speed of a truck you better get out of the way.But the intensity of the 80's and 90's on defense didn't allow for easy and straight slashes.Anyway as I said,you have your opinion,I have mine,and I respect both of them.

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Well you have your opinion,I'm not trying to change it.I stick to mine,that Lebron wouldn't be this player in the 90's,becuase he mostly uses his body to play,he is a freak of nature,when you see 250 lbs going towards you with the speed of a truck you better get out of the way.But the intensity of the 80's and 90's on defense didn't allow for easy and straight slashes.Anyway as I said,you have your opinion,I have mine,and I respect both of them.

Young Jordan's game was largely about slashing and some mid-range shooting. Some guys like Wilkins and Worthy were primarily slashers only. How would Lebron who's maybe the GOAT slasher and a better long-range shooter than all these guys not be able to put up a lot of points in the 80's/90's? There is no player in history that can stop LBJ isolated on an island regardless of how much contact is allowed and back in the day you couldn't play zone either.

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Young Jordan's game was largely about slashing and some mid-range shooting. Some guys like Wilkins and Worthy were primarily slashers only. How would Lebron who's maybe the GOAT slasher and a better long-range shooter than all these guys not be able to put up a lot of points in the 80's/90's? There is no player in history that can stop LBJ isolated on an island regardless of how much contact is allowed and back in the day you couldn't play zone either.

Although LeBron might have a case for GOAT slasher, he really isn't IMO.

And about his penetrating ability and the 80's, in the 80's he'd have to go against big, athletic and great defensive bigs (all at the same time) and also, James finishing ability is not that GOAT. I mean, his layups don't hold such virtuosity. It's just his body and his good finishing ability that make him such a great slasher and let's not overlook the lack of size and defensive talent at the same time, in today's league.

LeBron wouldn't have a problem to past by his defender but the finishing would be another story.

All, Jordan, Worthy and maybe Wilkins, were better finesse finishers while being strong as well. Jordan was the perfect mix. He could penetrate with no one there to stop him and he could finish whether by dunking or with some ridiculous layups.

And to say my opinion on the issue that has been created, I think James would be almost as dominant as he is now, but he'd have better competition.

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Although LeBron might have a case for GOAT slasher, he really isn't IMO.

And about his penetrating ability and the 80's, in the 80's he'd have to go against big, athletic and great defensive bigs (all at the same time) and also, James finishing ability is not that GOAT. I mean, his layups don't hold such virtuosity. It's just his body and his good finishing ability that make him such a great slasher and let's not overlook the lack of size and defensive talent at the same time, in today's league.

LeBron wouldn't have a problem to past by his defender but the finishing would be another story.

All, Jordan, Worthy and maybe Wilkins, were better finesse finishers while being strong as well. Jordan was the perfect mix. He could penetrate with no one there to stop him and he could finish whether by dunking or with some ridiculous layups.

And to say my opinion on the issue that has been created, I think James would be almost as dominant as he is now, but he'd have better competition.

James might be the single best finisher of all time. I'm not sure you know what you're saying. Almost every time he penetrates it's a dunk or point blank lay-up. And if you think he doesn't have finesse you have to refresh your memory. Every game he puts on a highlight reel with acrobatic finishes. And you don't stop a tank like that going to the basket I don't care who you are! Hand-checking would also make James even more devastating on defense with his strength and agility.

Lebron with faster pace would average 32/9/7 on 53% in his best year in the late 80's.

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James might be the single best finisher of all time. I'm not sure you know what you're saying. Almost every time he penetrates it's a dunk or point blank lay-up. And if you think he doesn't have finesse you have to refresh your memory. Every game he puts on a highlight reel with acrobatic finishes. And you don't stop a tank like that going to the basket I don't care who you are! Hand-checking would also make James even more devastating on defense with his strength and agility.

Lebron with faster pace would average 32/9/7 on 53% in his best year in the late 80's.

I don't think I need to refresh my memory.

James does all that in this era, yeah, in the 80's thouh, he wouldn't do these stuff nearly as often as he does know. I haven't seen many times James finishing like Jordan did, like Wade did, like Rose does etc. I mean circus layups etc. James has great hangtime, but he wouldn't do what he does now on a regular basis, in the 80's, as often. Not to mention that the 80's were much more physical. Can you imagine a team to be allowed to play Bad Boys defense...?!

Based on what he does in the 00's, yeah, LeBron has a case and might be the best finisher ever, but I'll take competition into account.

And I'm not sure that he'd average 53% against hand-checking during his whole prime. MJ, except of great penetrator, was a great mid range shooter as well, which was needed against hand-checking. LeBron needed some time to have a very good mid range game. Still, not that close to Jordan's.

But I agree about James' defense due to hand checking.

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I don't think I need to refresh my memory.

James does all that in this era, yeah, in the 80's thouh, he wouldn't do these stuff nearly as often as he does know. I haven't seen many times James finishing like Jordan did, like Wade did, like Rose does etc. I mean circus layups etc. James has great hangtime, but he wouldn't do what he does now on a regular basis, in the 80's, as often. Not to mention that the 80's were much more physical. Can you imagine a team to be allowed to play Bad Boys defense...?!

Based on what he does in the 00's, yeah, LeBron has a case and might be the best finisher ever, but I'll take competition into account.

And I'm not sure that he'd average 53% against hand-checking during his whole prime. MJ, except of great penetrator, was a great mid range shooter as well, which was needed against hand-checking. LeBron needed some time to have a very good mid range game. Still, not that close to Jordan's.

But I agree about James' defense due to hand checking.

According to HoopsData, Lebron's field goal % in the rim area is higher than Wade, Rose etc. Lebron is an unbelievable finisher and he has a lot of finesse and of course a lot of power. The late 80's were an era when average FG% was 3% higher than today. I have no doubt Lebron could shoot around 53% from the field.

Young MJ has a better mid-range game than Lebron for sure but Lebron is better from long-range, a better rebounder, and a more talented/willing playmaker too. Peak Jordan circa '92 is imho a better player than Lebron but even then the gap in individual ability is small. '88 or '89 Jordan was a far cry from '92 Jordan even if regular season stats say otherwise.

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