uWhen you look at this season, it’s remarkable that the Cleveland Cavaliers have managed to be so bad while LeBron James has been so good. Despite uneven play from the supporting cast, James’ numbers this season have been some of the best of his career.
He has averaged a career high 8.8 assists per game this season, largely as a result of playing as the team’s point guard. Despite being the primary initiator of the offense in years past, there has been almost no secondary play-making to make his life easier offensively.
In an interview with Howard Beck of Bleacher Report, James reflected on the workload he’s had to shoulder:
It's been a while since I've had that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time. But it's fine.
How this quote is being interpreted is essentially a Rorschach test for the reader. Some are taking this as a shot at Kyrie Irving, which is certainly possible. While it wouldn’t make sense logically, that doesn’t change the fact that LeBron has been prone to petty behavior in the past.
It wouldn’t make sense as Irving had the highest assist per game figure of any teammate throughout his career. It also wouldn’t make sense to imply that will change with Isaiah Thomas, as he had the identical number of potential assists per game as Irving, despite having more touches per game.
It’s more likely that LeBron is tired of playing without a point guard this season. With Isaiah Thomas out, Derrick Rose’s allergy to passing and staying healthy, and Iman Shumpert starting at the point, James has shouldered all of the team’s play-making this season.
LeBron’s statement later in the interview seemed to support the latter theory:
I look forward to when IT returns, whenever that happens, to give me a break here and there, where I know he can run the offense and control a quarter or two, or a game if need be.
Regardless of the intent, it’s clear to everybody that this team needs another play-maker. When Thomas does return to the line-up, it should make things easier for everyone on the team. We’ll likely see a lot of the two-man plays between Thomas and LeBron that we saw in the past with Irving. Until then, LeBron will need to do almost everything for the Cavs offensively.