Much has been made of LeBron James' shooting touch early into the 2021-22 season. Over the weekend when James went 1-16 from outside, the pundits were everywhere, questioning whether James still had the touch.
This of course was an overreaction. Shooters go through hot and cold spurts. This is not new. t is the oldest adage in the sports book of cliches. The Lakers have the biggest magnifying glass over them though, so it was not surprising. The next night, James had his shooting stroke back, and all was right with the world.
James' ability to shoot from beyond the arc and within has not been lost on Lakers' coach Frank Vogel, either.
“I wouldn’t say there’s any difference now than two years ago. He’s still playing at a super-high level. Until he rolled his ankle the other day, he was probably shooting the ball better than two years ago. I don’t know if the numbers support that, but he came out of the gate super hot. But he can still do it all, man.”
Coach Vogel isn't wrong, at least, not entirely. James' 3 point percentage is just slightly above his career average. His overall field goal percentage is slightly lower than his normal, but it isn't alarming, especially not in the small sample size it exists in. James' free-throw shooting thus far is better than it has been in the last few seasons. He's currently shooting .783 and the last few seasons he shot under 70%. His eFG% is .537, slightly below his career of .543.
With Russell Westbrook now in the starting lineup and able to handle much of the ball-handling and distribution, James' ability to shoot threes becomes a premium. His body may be aging and that is usually a reason to change one's game, but James is instead evolving his game to fit his team. If any player has the ability to evolve his game in benefit of his team, it's LeBron James.