When LeBron James made his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers, most experts believed that the Cavs would drop hard in the 2018-19 NBA season. They got nothing back for James, and while they did re-sign Kevin Love [VIDEO], that wasn't enough to make up for the star power that they lost when LeBron went to the Los Angeles Lakers [VIDEO].

However, one person thinks that the Cavaliers will be just fine without their best player. Center Tristan Thompson, who spent as much time on the bench as he did in games last season, said that the Cavs are still the team to beat -- even without LeBron James.

Cavaliers are still the best in the East

ESPN reported that Tristan Thompson said that the Cleveland Cavaliers are still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference after LeBron James left for the Los Angeles Lakers.

According to Thompson, they have won the Eastern Conference Championship four years in a row and that no one can claim to be better until they "take us down."

Everyone knows that the Cavs were not the Beasts in the East until LeBron James came back home and that their run to the NBA FInals started with LeBron, and will likely end after he left the team. With that said, Thompson said that he still feels they are the better team.

Thompson pointed out that the Cavaliers swept the Toronto Raptors, best the Boston Celtics in Boston in a Game 7 matchup, and they also swept the Philadelphia 76ers. With that in mind, if any of those teams want to lay claim to the best in the East, they have to beat Cleveland first.

Those comments brought some responses from Marcus Morris of the Boston Celtics and Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers.

The LeBron James effect

While Tristan Thompson has big opinions of the Cleveland Cavaliers chances for success in the 2018-19 NBA season, there is a fact that he needs to face. When LeBron James leaves a team, the team is never really the same.

In the final season before LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, the team won 61 games and lost in the semifinals. The first year without LeBron saw the team win 19 games. They won 33 games in 2013-14 before LeBron returned and they won 53 and made it to the NBA Finals.

LeBron James took the Miami Heat to four straight NBA Finals. The year after he left, they won 37 games and missed the playoffs.

The Westgate Sports Book in Las Vegas has the Cleveland Cavaliers over/under for wins this season at 30.5 -- that won't even make it to the playoffs. Boston, Toronto and Philadelphia are all predicted to hit 50 wins or more this season.