LeBron James and Stephen Curry are the most impactful players over the past decade, with LeBron capturing 4 NBA titles and Curry winning 3. Not to mention, 10 Finals matchups over the last 11 years have included either LeBron James or Stephen Curry. Looking ahead to next season, both superstar players have great rosters around them to help them win another title.
But when looking at their all-time teammates, it is clear they have had the help they needed to become champions in the past. By placing each superstar in a 5-on-5 matchup with their best-ever teammates alongside them, here is how each team would fare in a best-of-7 series.
Kyrie Irving vs. Stephen Curry
LeBron James was fortunate to play with a dominant go-to scorer like a prime Kyrie Irving. Kyrie is the best ball handler we have ever seen and also one of the guys who coaches trust with the game on the line. As shown in the 2016 Finals when he hit the game-winner over Stephen Curry, Kyrie is as effective as they come.
As great as Kyrie is, Curry is the best overall point guard in the game. He won't have a chance at stopping Kyrie from getting his points, but the three-point shooting is a massive headache for Team LeBron. Curry will be able to match Kyrie on offense when he gets hot, except that the Golden State Warriors legend will be counting by threes every time. Slight edge to Team Curry in this matchup.
Dwyane Wade vs. Klay Thompson
This is a matchup based on slashing against shooting. Dwyane Wade is one of the best slashers in NBA history, using his incredible speed and ball-handling to get to the rim. Wade's ability to finish in traffic and also run the floor will be the biggest factor in Team LeBron's offense. Not to mention, Wade and LeBron are perfect running buddies for each other and will have the best chemistry on the floor.
Klay Thompson will form a dynamic duo with Stephen Curry, as their shooting is the biggest reason the team will be hard to stop. Much like Curry, Klay doesn't need much space to let loose an accurate jumper from beyond. Defensively, Klay will make up for Curry’s weaknesses as well. This matchup is very intriguing on both ends of the floor, although Wade is a better all-around player.
LeBron James vs. Andre Iguodala
It is hard for any team to match up with LeBron James because The King has it all. He is a physical specimen who is the greatest battering ram to the rim we have seen and is also the most intelligent player on the floor. LeBron knows he has some all-time great scorers on his side and will do his job in placing them in positions to succeed.
Meanwhile, Andre Iguodala will bring All-NBA Defensive qualities against LeBron, doing his best to slow him down and bother him enough to allow Team Curry’s shooters to get hot. Iggy won Finals MVP in the 2015 Finals by preventing LeBron from winning the series on his own, and he will have to repeat that kind of performance yet again.
Chris Bosh vs. Kevin Durant
This matchup is about two finesse offensive players, although Team Curry has a very special talent on their side. Chris Bosh is a prototypical power forward who does a lot on both ends, but his impact comes in his mid-range and three-point scoring. Bosh is a perfect third option when the big guns need a possession off because he is efficient and has a ton of moves in his arsenal.
As great as Bosh is, Kevin Durant is an entirely different animal. Durant is the most complete scorer in the NBA because he has no weakness from anywhere on the court. Even if Curry and Klay can shoot the three slightly better, Durant can drive, shoot over any defender, create space, and has proven to be more clutch. He forms a dominant Splash Brothers trio with Curry and Klay and will be the biggest factor in Team Curry's offense.
Anthony Davis vs. Draymond Green
This is a big advantage for Team LeBron, as great as Green is as a defender. Anthony Davis is a spectacular offensive player and his height gives him a large edge over the smaller Draymond Green. Davis, the 6'10" big man with guard-like skills, will have the advantage over the 6'6" Green. Most importantly, LeBron James will allow Davis to find his confidence even if he starts getting roughed up by a tougher player in Draymond.
On the other end, Green is one of the best defenders over the past decade, and his desire to get stops might be his strongest attribute. But Davis averages 23.9 PPG for his career which means even the former Defensive Player of the Year Award winner will have trouble contesting his shots. With Davis dominating the paint on both ends, Team LeBron has a big advantage over Team Curry.
Team LeBron Advantages
Team LeBron can run, score at the rim, and dominate the post with reckless abandon. It is amazing how complete the squad is, and the quality of teammates that LeBron has had is quite alarming. In the half-court, The King will pick his spots and allow the bigs to eat. In the full-court, LeBron will be the primary playmaker for Irving and Wade.
Defensively, Team LeBron also has an advantage. Wade and Davis are two dominant defensive stars, capable of shutting down opposing players. James can also lock up the perimeter, and his raw mass will be a big factor in slowing down a slender Kevin Durant. In terms of basketball IQ, it will be hard to match up with Team LeBron.
Team Curry Advantages
Team Curry has an amazing shooting advantage, and that means they are capable of knocking off a team with bigger players. 3 points count more than 2, and their ability to get hot means Team LeBron can get swept if the shots are falling. Of course, basketball never truly plays out that way.
Curry, Thompson, and Durant are the greatest trio of shooters ever and the likes of Iguodala and Green will allow them the energy to let fly. Green and Iguodala have the responsibility of defending Davis and LeBron, but the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year will also act as a point center. Team Curry cannot match up with Team LeBron’s size, but they can still match up offensively.
Who Wins A Best-Of-7 Series?
In a best-of-7 series, the edge will come down to the slightest of margins. Game 1 is about Team Curry because they shoot 39% from three and blow out the opposition in the 3rd quarter thanks to a 24-12 run. With Durant, Curry, and Klay combining for 12 three-pointers in the game, adjustments are needed by Team LeBron.
Game 2 is where Team LeBron dominates the matchups, with Kyrie finding it easy to score on Curry and LeBron taking offense into his own hands. The duo combines for 55 points and nearly outscore Team Curry’s trio. In a low-scoring game, Team LeBron wins 99-90. Game 3 is all about Kevin Durant, who drops 40 points including a go-ahead three-pointer in OT to give them a 3-point victory.
As expected, Team LeBron makes adjustments and the fast-break becomes the biggest factor in the game. Davis blocks 5 shots, allowing LeBron to run and find Wade for 10 fast-break points in the entire game. The passing and off-ball movement by Kyrie and Wade will be too much for Team Curry to handle, and they lose Game 4 112-103.
Game 5 also goes to Team LeBron, who take a convincing 3-2 lead. The bigs are the biggest factor in the game, and end up being the biggest factor in the series. Davis and Bosh combine for 44 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 blocks on an efficient 52% shooting. That kind of dominance by the bigs means Draymond Green expells a ton of energy on defense, and there simply isn’t enough to counteract them.
Game 6 is a nail-biter, coming down to a Klay Thompson game-winner in the corner. Skipping ahead to the 4th, the game is back and forth. On the very last possession, Durant forces a jumper with 10 seconds left only for Green to slap it away for Curry. Wade dives for the ball and knocks it out of Curry’s hands, leaving it to roll to Thompson who takes a quick step back before draining a three-pointer to force a Game 7.
With so much energy exerted by Team Curry over the last 2 games, they run out of fuel. Team LeBron is methodical, focused, and aggressive early on to set the tone. No player shoots under 45%, they average 75% from the free-throw line and hardly give up good looks. Curry and Durant combine for 60 points, but they are relatively inefficient and cannot keep up with LeBron picking them apart. Feeding the bigs and his scorers, James drops a triple-double to win Finals MVP and secure a legendary victory in Game 7.
Final Result: Team LeBron vs. Team Curry 4-3
Finals MVP: LeBron James