It was all the rage on Thursday night against Denver and it also haunted the Cavs against Charlotte last night. LeBron James loves hoisting up the three pointers and our friend Vince Grzegorek analyzed the situation over at 64′ and Counting yesterday. Many individuals have their own opinions about LeBron’s shot selection, especially late in the game, although nobody doubts his ability to dominate at the game of basketball.
While it is always entertaining to hear Austin Carr and Fred McLeod yell about three pointers from “deep in the Q,” there have been many times this season when the Cavs rely too much on this type of shot opportunity. With Antawn Jamison in town now as well, a guy who averages over five three point shots per game this season, expect more and more nights of 20+ attempts from deep. Can this be a good thing or is this always a bad thing?
Certainly, when LeBron shoots 1-for-9 from threes as he did on Thursday evening against the Nuggets there will be plenty of backlash from fans and commentators alike. Here is the explanation Vince gave against LeBron and his constant chucks from three-land:
That’s right, LeBron ranks 5th in the NBA in most 3′s attempted with 286 so far this year. Only Danilo Gallinari, Aaron Brooks, Peja Stojakovich, and Travor Ariza have more.
25.7% of LeBron’s field goal attempts are 3′s. 286 out of 1110.
His 35.3 shooting % on 3′s, however, ranks 77th in the league among qualified players.
Make sense? Probably not, especially when you have Boobie Gibson (ranked 2nd in %), Anthony Parker (ranked 6th), and Mo Williams (ranked 8th) on your roster.
While this is an absolute fact and something I cannot argue with in the least bit, it is also fact that the best teams in the NBA just happen to be the best three point shooting teams. Ever since the San Antonio Spurs win several championships with their inside-out style of play, it has been all the rage in the NBA. The Celtics, the Magic and now the Cavaliers have utilized the three ball to their advantage more often than not and rank among the league leaders yet again this season.
In fact, among the top 20 teams in three point shooting percentage, they have an average winning percentage of .567. The rest of the NBA has only a .366 winning percentage. Among the top 20 teams in three point attempts per game, they have an average winning percentage of .546 while the rest of the NBA is only at .406.
Just take a look here at the top five teams in the NBA in three point shooting percentage as well as the bottom five teams: 1) Cavaliers, 2) Suns, 3) Nuggets, 4) Raptors, 5) Spurs, 26) Bulls, 27) Pacers, 28) Clippers, 29) Nets and 30) Pistons. It is obvious in all of these reflections that the three ball is crucial to teams winning games in the 2009-2010 season.
So while fans can certainly make a case for LeBron James to take fewer three point shots per game, it is an essential piece to the Cavaliers puzzle. Over the past two seasons when LBJ has had the highest percentage of his field goal attempts be three pointers, they have also been the best two regular seasons of his career. Be careful what you wish for and I’ll take losses like the past two nights as long as the team can get into the playoffs and play their best basketball of the season.
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)