Deep Dive: A look at LeBron James’ shooting trends over his entire career

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Last year’s NBA season saw LeBron James in a struggle with time, the greatest regular season team ever and his own body.

He triumphed over time and the Golden State Warriors in the Finals with a nice assist from Kyrie Irving and his teammates, but even till the end his body wasn’t quite on the same page.

Throughout the 2016 NBA Playoffs many teams had made it a point to tell their personnel to go under screens when guarding the best player on the planet in an effort to make him have to shoot to beat them.

Under scrutiny the idea doesn’t make a ton of sense, James possesses enough skill to make the right pass time after time and occasionally burn that sort of defensive scheme from deep with timely shots.

The King made 30 percent of his threes in 2015-16 and that would be the worst mark of his entire career besides his rookie season when he shot 29 percent.

From the moment he entered the league in 2003, his shot has been one of the most discussed elements of his game because of the fluctuating nature of his shooting from outside the paint.


Numbers from his first tenure in Cleveland indicate a sort of see-saw effect where he started at an absolute low, improved by more than five percentage points in his second year and then declined until 2009.

During 2009 and 2010 James had the best all-around years of his first Cavaliers stint and they resulted in two MVP awards.

In Miami, his shooting suffered in the first year and then quickly outpaced his previous highs in the years he won his first two championships there. King James was nothing short of a force of nature in the 2013 season where he dominated with crushing efficiency.

His shooting would trail off in his last year there at 37 percent and continue to slide during his homecoming stint on the shores of Lake Erie.

This year’s iteration of James is still the basketball genius that he was before, but his shooting stroke has been stellar and would finish for second highest of James’ career if the season ended today at 38 percent.

2017’s postseason is still more than a month away, but the shooting trends look favourable for the reigning Finals MVP if he can keep them up. Cleveland is locked and loaded with shooting at almost every position on the floor.

Adding their leader to the mix makes them extremely hard to guard and even harder to stop. That is bad news for the rest of the NBA.

Kyrie Irving
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
Kevin Love
LeBron James

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