LeBron James
Shocking news! The LeBron James / Brandon Ingram duo isn’t working. I wonder why? (Harry How/Getty Images)

Great players aren’t just great because of their talent. They also have the ability to make others better around them. This goes for any sport or job. A great boss can make employees look a hell of a lot better than they really are. A great quarterback can make below average receivers look really productive. LeBron James is considered the best basketball player in the world but frankly, that opinion really never makes sense. How can the best basketball player in the world consistently make his teammates worse?

Time and time again, LeBron James has ruined franchises and players in his wake. Kyrie Irving wanted out, Kevin Love forgot hot to play, and James forced ownership to sign horrendous contracts such as Triston Thompson and JR Smith. His puppet of a head coach, Ty Lue, was also canned in the first month of the season because they knew he couldn’t coach. It is not arguable. LeBron James makes his teammates worse. If you don’t believe me, you can click here. It’s been proven.

Now LeBron is having a new adventure with the Lakers. The Lakers most prized young building block is forward Brandon Ingram. The third-year man out of Duke has been compared to a young Kevin Durant. At least, that was the Lakers hope when they drafted him. Ingram was really starting to figure things out at the end of the 2017-2018 season. Ingram had upped his scoring average from 9.4 to 16.1. His field goal percentage jumped from .402 to .470. Ingram all of the sudden became a reliable three-point threat upping that percentage from .294 to .390 percent. Heading into year-three, you would think that Ingram was ready to become a real All-Star? Hell, If LeBron is so great, Ingram was bound to improve with his leadership alone? All of those things have been false so far and it’s not because of Brandon Ingram. Once again, LeBron is ruining another high profile teammate.

Here are Brandon Ingram’s stats on the season. One with LeBron on the floor, the other with LeBron on the bench and Ingram on the floor. The numbers are staggering.

James ON: Points per 36 min – 15.1, assists per 36 min – 1.9, Field goal percentage – 44 percent, Net efficiency: -0.3

James OFF: Points per 36 min – 29.5, assists per 36 min – 4.7, Field goal percentage – 56 percent, Net efficiency: +12.0

Ingram has popped. He has arrived. He has taken the leap. The problem is LeBron is ruining him so we can’t really see it. The numbers don’t lie. Ingram shines when LeBron isn’t on the floor. Obviously, the sample size is small when James is on the bench and Ingram is on the floor. The regular season is also a snoozefest so maybe we shouldn’t panic yet but I don’t see how this problem gets fixed.

The problem isn’t the points and the assists aren’t the problem. BUT when you look at the field goal percentage and the net efficiency are huge problems. There are two goals that the Lakers need to accomplish this year. The first is finding out how formidable the LeBron and Ingram duo is. The second is if that combination isn’t working, increase Brandon Ingram’s trade value. Now neither of those are coming to fruition and Ingram’s stock is taking a tumble. What a shame!

The Lakers probably could have traded Ingram for Paul George a year ago or Kawhi Leonard this past offseason. The Lakers passed on both because they believe in Ingram’s talent, as do I. Maybe Ingram never become Durant but there is no reason why he can’t turn into a top 20 player in the league. If the Lakers didn’t agree with me, they would have traded him already.

Dynasty or Playoffs: Where do the Lakers go from here?

At the end of the day, you can’t change people. A Republican is going to deny Global warming no matter how many facts you show them because that’s who they are. It’s in their DNA. The ultimate problem is that LeBron thinks he is the point guard. That’s his game. Since Rajon Rondo went down with an injury, LeBron has taken the lead point guard role and Ingram’s play is starting to really deteriorate.

Ingram is a playmaker. He needs his touches to be effective. In LeBron’s elementary, isolation offense. There is a lot of standing and waiting. That doesn’t help anyone. Even superstars like Kyrie Irving have struggled in his elementary system. Ingram isn’t shooting the ball very well because of LeBron. Ingram shot .390 percent from downtown a year ago. That mark has plummeted to .333 percent on the season. This problem isn’t fixable. Ingram is a mismatch and he needs his touches in spots where he can take advantage of the defense. That will never happen with LeBron calling all of the shots.

At the end of the day, LeBron still hasn’t figured out who he is. At his best, LeBron has won championships and MVPs with specialists. More specifically, a 3-point specialist. Ray Allen, Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Kyle Korver, etc. This Lakers roster is filled with guys who can’t shoot. LeBron’s play style is very basic and elementary. It’s a big reason why he continues to make players worse and never won as many times as he should have. But that’s who he is. If LeBron wants to win another title, he keeps his nose out of the gm ranks and let someone else take those reigns. His perfect team would look a lot like LeBron, Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson, C.J. McCollum, Kristaps Porzingis. Instead, he wants a team that is filled with aging vets that can’t shoot.

Does LeBron James Really Make His Teammates Better? You Be The Judge

People who are great at something aren’t just great because of their talent, it’s also because of their ability to make people around them better. LeBron James has never done the latter. I sure as hell would never want him on my team.