The Los Angeles Lakers started the season red hot from behind the arc. Through their first 15 games, they shot 38.8% from 3-point range, which had them ranked fifth in the NBA behind the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz and LA Clippers. Three of their players — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and LeBron James — were making over 40% of their 3-point attempts.
Since then, the Lakers have cooled down a bit— and by “cooled down a bit,” I mean completely frozen over like that scene in “The Day After Tomorrow,” which is a bad movie with an elite “everything is turning into ice” scene. But I digress.
Over the last 14 games, the Lakers have shot a league-worst 29.1% from 3-point range. During that span, Caldwell-Pope, Caruso and James have all shot below 40%. In fact, Caruso and James are shooting under 30% while Caldwell-Pope is barely shooting above 30%.
It should go without saying, but Lakers could be shooting better, and they want to be a better 3-point-shooting team, but James doesn’t want this most recent stretch to discourage them.
“Obviously we know we have to make shots from the perimeter,” James said after the Lakers’ 114-89 loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. “It’s that simple, and we know that. But we can’t put added pressure on ourselves. Like me personally, I know I haven’t shot the ball like I did in the first 20 games of the season, but I haven’t put more pressure on myself because I know I put the work in. So I hope my teammates do that same
“Don’t put too much added pressure on yourselves. When you put the work in, I think you live with the results. But we have to make some shots. We’re really good in the paint, we do a good job of that. But we’re not making threes, we’re not getting to the free-throw line and it’s been very difficult on our team to score.
“It’s a tough stretch for us,” James added. “But this won’t define who we will be for the rest of the season and for the long haul. That’s for sure.”
For the season, the Lakers are ranked 26th in the league in 3-point percentage at 34.8%. Their 3-point percent is over 2.0% worse than the league average this season, but it’s also just about where they finished last season, when they shot 34.9% from behind the arc in the regular season.
The key for the Lakers going forward will be to make sure that percentage doesn’t drop any lower than it already has. If it does, they may be forced to bring in some shooting from the outside via free agency or the trade market. That might not be such a bad idea anyway, but ideally, more shooting would be a luxury for this team and not a necessity.
The Lakers will try and break out of their shooting slump against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. Tip-off is at 5 p.m. on ESPN.