At some point, ESPN is going to have to put together a documentary asking why NBA players simply forget how to shoot upon joining the Los Angeles Lakers. Reggie Bullock was hitting 38.8 percent of the nearly seven attempts he was taking per game with the Detroit Pistons.
As a Laker, his number of attempts has dropped to 5.1 per game, and his accuracy has fallen off a cliff to only 29.9 percent.
Still, he says he and his teammates still have confidence in his abilities, as he told reporters last week (via Spectrum SportsNet):
“My teammates told me to keep shooting, to believe that I’m a shooter. I believe that every shot I take is going in. I felt like a lot of them were short tonight (against the Bulls), but that’s something for me to get back into the gym and continue to work on.
“But my confidence has to continue to stay there for me to continue to shoot the ball, because that’s what we need for this team, and they depend on me to do that, so I have to make shots.”
Bullock isn’t alone. Everyone who was expected to be able to shoot for the Lakers this year has fallen well short of expectations. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope went from knocking down 38 percent of his threes last year to hitting only 33.6 percent of them this season. Josh Hart went from just shy of 40 percent as a 3-point shooter to now only hitting 33.2 percent. Kyle Kuzma went from knocking down 36.6 percent of the threes he took a year ago to shooting 30.5 percent from deep this season.
Theory: Maybe the Lakers’ practice facility was built on the grave of a particularly petty all-time great 3-point shooter.
Okay fine, maybe the team’s lack of a shooting coach might be a better explanation, but still. It makes no sense whatsoever that a group of deep threats would all get worse playing alongside LeBron James, who creates as many (if not more) wide open 3-point opportunities as anyone else in the NBA.
Yes, these shots have been attempted with more pressure than at any other point of these guys’ careers, but it’s still really weird that everyone’s shooting ability has fallen off a cliff. Maybe hire a shooting coach this season, Lakers. We know you’re into PR moves, so even if it’s just for that, I’ll take it.
As for Bullock specifically (and this might extend to the rest of the team’s shooters), he seems to rely heavily on structure. He — like most shooters — wants to know where his shots are going to come from, and when he’ll have those opportunities.
As the Lakers’ offense is exactly the opposite of structured, he doesn’t have those habits to build his confidence from. If this is indeed a structural issue, that might explain why so many shooters have struggled in Luke Walton’s
lack of a system.
Whatever the reason might be, the Lakers have to find some way to get Bullock and any other shooters they might employ down the road back on track. Because of the team’s inability to knock down threes consistently, they’re up against a math problem, as well as a talent deficiency given the injuries throughout the roster.
It’s obviously too late to remedy these things at this stage of the season, but Bullock’s struggles highlight something they’ll need to focus heavily on this summer.