LeBron James Carrying Disproportionate Amount of Responsibility for Miami Heat

Peter EmerickSenior Writer IIJanuary 12, 2013

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 20:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat at American Airlines Center on December 20, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

LeBron James is more valuable to the Miami Heat than any other player on their roster—end of discussion.

Okay, it's actually just the beginning of the discussion, but LeBron's importance to the Heat can't be understated.

With three legitimate superstars on the roster, the responsibility for carrying the Heat should be balanced, but that hasn’t been the case.

LeBron is carrying more of the responsibility for the Heat than any other player on the roster, and it isn’t hard to see.

I’d go as far as saying that LeBron is the Heat’s first and second most valuable player. Well, maybe it's more of a 1 and 1a type situation, but LeBron is undoubtedly the Heat's most valuable asset. 

It shouldn't take more than two sentences to prove my point, so here we go.

First, LeBron leads the Heat in points (26.0), rebounds (8.4), assists (6.9), PER (29.3) and steals (1.5) per game—Mario Chalmers is averaging 1.56 steals per game, compared to LeBron's 1.53, but that's trivial here.

Second, LeBron (38.6) is averaging nearly five minutes per game more than the next player, Chris Bosh (33.9).

LeBron, with Chalmers, is the one of two Heat players to play in all 34 of the Heat's games thus far.

While Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are averaging a combined 38.8 points, 12 rebounds and 5.9 rebounds per game, I argue that they benefit from LeBron's presence more than he benefits from theirs.

Until LeBron steps out of the Heat's lineup we won't be able to see his true value. Heat fans better hope that they don't have to watch a single game with LeBron on the bench, because it would be a sight for sore eyes.

While other players lead their teams in a single facet of the game, LeBron does so in every critical category.

He scores at an efficient clip, shooting 53.9 percent from the field. He facilitates the ball at the 10th-highest rate in the NBA, and he rebounds the ball at a top-25 rate too. 

LeBron does all of that while leading the entire NBA in PER, which shows just how productive, efficient and dominant he truly is.

It's easy to shift the focus of LeBron's production to the talent he has around him. Take a minute and look at his production without Bosh and Wade in the lineup and you'll see that he doesn't need them to own the league.

LeBron without Bosh (one game)—30 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, 55.0 FG%

LeBron without Wade (three games)—7.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 52.0 FG%

The production that LeBron puts up without his sidekicks on the court shows that he's capable of dominating the competition no matter who's around him.

We saw that night in and night out when LeBron was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and every once and awhile we're reminded of what he's truly capable of when Wade or Bosh is out of the lineup.

LeBron is the Heat's most valuable player in so many respects that his value to the team is second to none.

It’s not that Wade or Bosh passively decide to let LeBron man the helm. They really don’t have any other option, because without LeBron carrying the majority of the responsibility for the Heat, Miami wouldn’t be in the position they are.

While a 23-11 overall record may be somewhat disappointing for Heat fans, it could be worse.

Luckily for the Heat, LeBron doesn’t seem to care that he’s carrying a disproportionate amount of the responsibility for the Heat.

That’s just the kind of mature player LeBron is, and it’s why the Heat are still successful despite their recent struggles.