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For the first time since 2010, James finds himself as the lone player carrying the offense. The departure of Irving left a massive void in terms of playmaking, and James wants someone to share the load.
“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,” James told Howard Beck of Bleacher Report Magazine. “But it’s fine. It’s something that our team will make an adjustment to.”
The new hierarchy sees James as the league leader in minutes played as he tries to single-handedly keep an aging Cleveland Cavaliers side afloat. It’s not an ideal arrangement for someone in his 15th season coming off seven straight Finals appearances, but James has delivered.
He’s posting career highs in assists (8.8) and field-goal percentage (58.6) while also tacking on his usual diet of 28.1 points and 7.6 rebounds. He’s not quite at his best on defense, but nobody can argue with James’ contributions on offense.
It’s not as if James has no help whatsoever, since the plan was to continue surrounding him with All-Star quality players. Kevin Love should be capable of being a second option, and the team expected him to step up in the absence of Irving, but his game seems to have plateaued since joining Cleveland. Isaiah Thomas scored almost 29 points per game last season but he continues to miss time with a hip injury. Cleveland’s collection of other formerly accomplished players all seem to be underperforming at once.
Thomas, for one, promises that he can be the missing piece to help James once he returns sometime in the coming months.
“I can help, first off with my aggressiveness and my scoring ability. But just putting pressure on the defense every time down. Being able to get in the paint and make the defense pick and choose what they want to stop. Being able to get to the free-throw line. Little things like that that I see nobody’s really doing but Bron,” Thomas said.