LeBron James’ shooting improvement is another testament to his longevity: “A crazy mindset will.. (VIDEO)

LeBron James’ shooting improvement is another testament to his longevity:
“A crazy mindset will.. (VIDEO)

LeBron’s continuous evolution as a basketball player is one of the most impressive aspects of his legendary legacy.

LeBron James is legitimately an anomaly as an athlete and basketball player. In his 21st NBA season, James continues to set lofty marks for himself from a production standpoint.

More impressively, however, is the manner in which he’s been able to slightly tweak, and improve upon, aspects of his game over decades into his historical career.

In 2023-24 so far, LeBron is shooting a career-high 40.5 percent from downtown for the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s common practice for NBA players to add to their game either in a single off-season or over the course of time.

LeBron’s continuous evolution as a basketball player is one of the most impressive achievements of his Hall-of-Fame career.

Prioritizing efficiency over volume

Shooting 40.5% on 5.7 3PTA per game

The Lakers don’t boast many shooters on the roster. As a team, they rank second to last in three-pointers made and attempted per game, and are 21st in three-point percentage.

While they can get hot for stretches at a time, their strategy generally revolves around trying to limit the opposition’s effectiveness from other areas on the floor (11th in the league in opponents’ points per game), and focusing on attacking the rim and moving the ball around offensively (Lakers have five players who average at least 11 points).

LeBron’s a master at making adjustments to his game, especially during the off-season. Since the 2019-20 campaign, James has averaged at least six threes attempted per game. Last year, he shot just 32 percent on almost seven attempts.

In 2021-22, he converted at a 36 percent clip while launching a career-high eight threes each night. Instead of focusing on more volume this season, LeBron has scaled back in favor of better looks.

The result? LeBron’s efficiency is the highest it’s been since his Miami days. Through 23 games, he’s shooting 55.1 percent from the field, including a career-best 40.5 percent from deep. Not only is LeBron still matching his usual mark of at least two made threes per night, his shot selection elsewhere has helped maintain his elite scoring numbers despite taking over five less shots per game than in 2022-23.

LeBron’s 3-point focus
Shooting 41.5% on 3PT above the break

James’ maniacal mindset to improve sets a perfect example for his young Lakers teammates. His accuracy from three-point land has been impressive — he’s really keyed in on his hot spots from above the break to do damage.

LeBron loves launching trailing triples, shots in transition, and pull-up threes regardless of if a defender is in the vicinity or not. Of his 131 threes attempted in 2023-24, 118 of them came from above the break. In contrast, he’s only hit three corner threes the entire season.

Now, it’s not unusual for LeBron — someone who often creates looks on his own — to have such an uneven distribution from downtown. However, this season has been more about taking cleaner shots, in a better rhythm.

On his 75 made jumpers, 65.3 percent of them were assisted — he’s less hesitant to fire when there’s any sort of opening. Though his stature and experience eliminates nerves from the equation, accurate shooting is all about repetition and confidence.

There’s been a noticeable difference in how the 38-year-old prepares himself when spotting up from a year ago. His arc is a lot higher and his decision on whether to shoot (or not) is more deliberate.

James’ overall shooting impact
Diversifying his game

You could go on and on about LeBron’s elite impact during the latter stages of his career; it’s rare to see any athlete perform at such a level for an extended period of time.

An underrated aspect of LeBron is his willingness to adapt as time goes on. Each different version of himself is a reflection of whichever era he is in.

His style of play spans across multiple eras of basketball, but depending on the competition, James has made a point to alter either his physical makeup or add wrinkles to his game when necessary. With the Lakers reeling from downtown, his new focus is on valuing the right shots in the flow of the offense.

The Lakers have legitimate championship aspirations in 2024. Though outside shooting is one of the team’s main weaknesses, the rest of the lineup would be wise to follow LeBron’s lead in terms of efficient shot selection.

It’s almost impossible for them to catch up with the volume of other competing teams unless there are personnel changes to the roster. But with a record of 14-10 and a conquest of the inaugural In-Season Tournament, L.A. clearly possesses the talent and overall scoring ability to keep up with teams that feature better three-point shooters.

LeBron’s 21st year is defined by his desire to continue outperforming any precedents. Maintaining the best three-point numbers of his career, on a squad that desperately needs it, is both symbolic and crucial to the long-term success of the Lakers this season.

 

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