When the Los Angeles Lakers signed LeBron James in free agency, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson pitched him on having ‘tough-minded playmakers.’
For James, this was a significant change from having three-point shooters that helped him win three championships in eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances.
However, the thought process was teams like the Houston Rockets showed they could not outshoot the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors.
As the Lakers will miss the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, James was recently asked about the team’s roster construction and the lack of three-point shooters, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“That experiment?” James said of the roster construction for his first season in L.A.
James stared out onto the court for a moment, turned his attention back to the conversation, pursed his lips and stuck out his tongue as he trumpeted air out of his mouth, making a raspberry sound.
Through 76 games, the Lakers are the second-worst three-point shooting team (33.2%). And outside of Scott Machado (100% on 0.3 attempts) and Alex Caruso (43.3% on 1.6 attempts) from the South Bay Lakers, Lance Stephenson (38.1% on 2.8 attempts) leads the team in that department.
While the Lakers had hoped Kyle Kuzma (30.3% on 6.0 attempts) and Josh Hart (33.6% on 4.1 attempts) would take the next step in that area, they eventually traded for Reggie Bullock and Mike Muscala. Bullock has struggled (31.4% on 5.1 attempts) and Muscala (20.8% on 2.2 attempts) has not been close to being a stretch-five.
As the Lakers prepare for the offseason, the hope is Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka focus on shooters and rim protectors. Along with James, the young core would benefit from having driving lanes to finish around the rim or create good looks for their teammates.