With the addition of a reliable 3-point shot to his game in recent years, LeBron James is as close to a flawless player as the NBA has ever seen. However, one of the few players he does have has been especially evident in his second season with the Los Angeles Lakers: His free-throw shooting.
Through 60 appearances for the Lakers this season, James has shot 69.7% from the free-throw line on a career-low 5.7 free-throws per game. James is one of eight players shooting below 70% from the free-throw line on at least 5 attempts per game this season — the others are Andre Drummond, Rudy Gobert, Ben Simmons, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zion Williamson, Montrezl Harrell and Bam Adebayo. Great players, but bad free-throw shooters.
What’s strange about James’ case, though, is that he used to be a near-league average free-throw shooter, but in recent seasons, he’s lost the mental battle at charity stripe — seemingly changing his free-throw routine from game-to-game.
Another game, another free-throw routine for LeBron. pic.twitter.com/iW8kpskX5R— pickuphoop (@pickuphoop) December 27, 2019
Simply put, James needs to be better from the free-throw line, and he’s taking steps towards doing that, Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd told Melissa Rohlin of Sports Illustrated in a recent interview:
“As you can see, his free throws right now, he’s gone back more closer to his high school free throw and he’s shooting over 80 percent since he’s done that,” Kidd said. “He’s always searching to get better and is there a way to fix something. And that was probably one of the things in his game that he needed to work on.”
It’s unclear when exactly James made this adjustment, but in the nine games he played after the All-Star break, James shot 3.8% above his season average from the free-throw line on 1.9 more attempts per game. The rise in attempts alone is enough to help the Lakers win games, but it would obviously nice to see him make more of his free-throws.
Let’s hope that James is working on his free-throw shooting fundamentals with the hoop at his house during his newfound free time.