Giving Stephen Curry Run For His Money, LeBron James Demands “Respect” From NBA’s Unbothered Defenders

via Imago

LeBron James walked into the league with 25 points on a good defense. The first game he ever played was on Oct. 29, 2003, against the Sacramento Kings. 21 years later, LA Lakers‘ recent win over the Brooklyn Nets saw James notch his third 40-point game of the season. While it makes him the only player to do so in year 21, the game brings forth a different narrative.

27 of James’ 40 points came off the three-point line. He took a whopping 10 attempts beyond the arc, converting 90% of them. Constantly switching between the front and backcourt while dominating near the basket, the long balls were unusual sights from James. With that, when asked about his leaning on the 3-point shot, James put his versatile arsenal at notice.

The reporter asked, “Was there a stage in your career when you can recall where the three-point shot became more important for you to add or lean on?”

LBJ answered, “Well, I don’t never have to lean on it because I can do so much. I can score at any level on the floor. You know, basically, once I cross half court. I can score on the post, I can score off pick and rolls, I could score off the ball off cutting or being a recipient of my teammates making a play for me. But being able to have a growth mindset and be able to work on things that the league is changing too, you know, the league is becoming a heavy 3-point shooting league.

However, LeBron highlighted the increased use of the arc before saying, “I want to be respected and teams have to play me from the outside. I know that’s still kind of one thing that you know teams still want to be like ‘Okay, if we have to give up something, we much rather to shoot the ball from the outside’.

“But you know, shooting the long ball and also making my free throws, that’s very important for me this season and the last few seasons, honestly.”

Moreover, with the 9-10 bombardment in Brooklyn, James surpasses Stephen Curry‘s 3-point efficiency this season. Steph, often lauded for changing the game into a three-point-heavy endeavor, connects on 40.3% of his long rangers. On the other hand, James now flaunts a 41.6% efficiency with 7 games left in the season.

LeBron James’ 3-point shooting this year

Despite making his presence known in the paint, James is shooting his career best from the three-point line in the 2023-24 campaign. Even better than the 2012-2013 championship run that saw him shooting 40.6% from a distance.

However, as James says, he is not “one of those guys that wants to go out there and shoot 12, 14 or 15 3s per game.” On January 3, James took 6 chances from the distance, failing to connect on one. On November 25, he launched 9 three-pointers, shooting at just 11.1%. Then, how is James averaging better 3-point shooting than Stephen Curry? The answer lies in his attempts. James, after learning through his shot selection earlier this season, has been smartly picking his 3-point shots.

Although James averages a little over 5 3-point attempts per game, he only attempts more than that in two situations: either a last-resort situation or when he is feeling the groove. A significant statistic is that in the 25 games where James has attempted more than 5 three-balls, he has managed to sink 46% of those. James’ pickiness in his three-point shot has seen a noticeable increase in the latter chunk of the campaign. Over the last 5 games, he has converted more than 55% of his three-pointers.

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