LeBron James has never been known as an elite three-pointer shooter, just one weakness compared to all his other strengths. However, this season his poor shooting form has come under scrutiny particularly among sports analysts, such as Skip Bayless. LeBron's struggles from deep have coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers struggles this season.
Skip Bayless has been a known antagonist of LeBron James from back to Bayless’s time with ESPN. Now that Bayless is with Fox Sports, with his show titled UNDISPUTED, he has only continued his counterarguments against James. Bayless has almost made a career out of critical stance on James and continues to do so, mainly using James’s lack of shooting against him.
With LeBron James taking more threes per game and not improving his three-point percentage has given Bayless even more ammunition to use against Lerbon. Bayless, while on UNDISPUTED, had this to say:
“Because he [LeBron James] has reverted to the mean, which is what the stations say. He has become what he always was. He is a below-average three-point shooter.”
Bayless then went on to say,
“All he [James] is doing now is jacking up three at an alarmingly high rate and not making them any more than he has ever made in his career.”
The stats do back up what Bayless is saying. LeBron James is now taking 8.5 threes per game, 2.2 more than the next highest average of his career, and nearly double his career average of 4.4. Even though Bayless is correct that James is still shooting at 34.4%, with a career average of 34.5%, it should not be that alarming.
Many players who take more threes tend to go down in percentage with a higher volume, and at least James is staying close to his average. However, James is not best utilized as an outside shooter but as a driver and playmaker.
Why is LeBron James taking so many threes?
LeBron James has taken a lot of threes this season, and if he continues this pace, he might take the most shots beyond the arc of his career.
There have been many factors into why he has been forced into pulling up from deep so frequently this early in the season. A lot of it has to do with the team around him. With the Lakers trading for Russell Westbrook this offseason, they added a career 31% three-point shooter to the roster as their starting point guard.
Westbrook likes to play downhill on the fast break which James also loves to do. On top of that, the other All-Star on the roster is Anthony Davis, who is a power forward/center, who is not a great floor spacer and scores most of his points in the paint.
The issue with this is that all three of the Lakers main stars and offensive threats all want to score their points in and around the painted area,
Another significant issue is that Davis is having the worst three-point shooting season of his career, shooting 21% on 2.1 attempts per game, and Westbrook has stayed true to form, shooting 31% on 4.4 attempts.
Defenses have packed the paint against the Lakers, which has allowed easy three-point attempts, which LeBron James has taken. James has been trying to provide some floor spacing. But with three point shooting not being one of his strong suits, Lebrun has failed to punish teams.
The reason for Lebron James's increase in his three-point attempts has been a mix of necessity and opportunity. But his poor conversion rate could be an issue down the line, especially in the playoffs, which means the Lakers might need to do some roster reshuffling before then.