Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

LeBron James finds shooting touch in Game 3

2016 NBA Finals - Game Three

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 08: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers warms up prior to Game 3 of the 2016 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Getty Images

LeBron James in Game 2:

LeBron James in Game 3:

There difference was clear.

LeBron, whose jumper has degraded since his return to Cleveland, made as many shots outside 10 feet in a three-minute stretch of Game 3 as he had in any other entire playoff game this year. LeBron finished 5-for-9 from outside 10 feet, the first time this postseason he has made most of his attempts from that range and a huge step up from his 1-for-6 performance in Game 2.


When LeBron is hitting from outside, he and his teammates are that much harder to defend. The spacing improves and ball moves better.

But these occurrences have been increasingly rare the last two years.

Here’s LeBron’s effective field-goal percentage each season (regular season and playoffs combined):


Early in LeBron’s career, his jumper was a deficiency. He worked hard to turn it into a weapon, and now he’s back somewhere near where he started.

It’s not just his percentage. LeBron looks less confident in his jumper, and he sometimes passes up open looks – disrupting the offense’s flow. Because he’s so used to launching those attempts, he doesn’t always immediately drive or pass when he gets the ball outside the paint with space. He often hesitates, a tentativeness that leads to turnovers.

LeBron has gotten to the rim more to compensate, and the tradeoff can be positive. Shots in the restricted area are his most efficient. But sometimes, those are unavailable, and the ability to make jumpers becomes crucial.

If he has found a groove now, the Cavs might be onto something.

If he regresses to what appears to be his new mean, the Warriors will have a much easier time clamping down.