It probably took a little longer than it should have, but the Los Angeles Lakers finally got LeBron James a shooter by adding Reggie Bullock at the NBA trade deadline.
James has always been at his best when surrounded by shooters, which is why it was so confusing that the front office didn’t target known sharpshooters like Wayne Ellington, Seth Curry or Marco Belinelli in free agency. Perhaps they were banking on Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to build on the progress they made as 3-point shooters last season, but unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case.
Now James has Bullock — a career 40 percent 3-point shooter — at his disposal, and he couldn’t be more excited about it. At shootaround on Friday, James told reporters that it’s nice to have a 3-point marksman like Bullock on the roster:
LeBron was asked what's behind his early chemistry with Reggie Bullock.— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) March 1, 2019
"I've always had really, really strong relationships with shooters. I'm a pass-first guy, and those guys are catch and shoot. ... I attract so much, that I just try to take their defenders eyes off of them."
This isn’t the first time James has publicly appreciated Bullock’s presence, and so far they’ve enjoyed each other’s company on the court.
Since the All-Star break, the two-man lineup of Bullock and James has posted a net rating of +6.6, which is the highest net rating of any two man lineup that has played at least 50 minutes for the Lakers. They’ve also combined for an impressive 61.1 percent true shooting percentage.
Who knew that James would be so successful with a 3-point shooter? Oh, that’s right — everyone. Literally everyone did.
James will need all the help he can get from Bullock for the Lakers’ final 21 games, particularly on Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks do a good job or protecting their paint, allowing their opponents to make just 47.6 percent of their 2-point attempts, but they give up the most 3-pointers per game.
If the Lakers are going to upset the Bucks, who hold the best record in the NBA, they’re going to need to take and make a lot of 3-pointers. In other words, James and Bullock need to spend a lot of time on the court together. It’s a good thing they’re off to a such a “really strong” start, then.
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