VIDEO: LeBron James’ highlights from Wednesday’s win in Boston
HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — Kyrie Irving hasn’t been the only thing missing from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ offense this season. LeBron James‘ jump shot has also been AWOL.
In Tuesday’s win in Boston, James shot 0-for-6 from outside the paint, missing three shots from mid-range and three from beyond the arc. It was the 43rd time in 1,111 career games that James has gone scoreless from outside the paint. But it was also the second time in the last five games and the eighth time this season that James has made less than two shots from outside the paint.
James entered the NBA with a combination of size and athleticism that we had never seen in a perimeter player. But as an 18-year-old rookie, he didn’t have much of a jump shot. He shot 32.0 percent from outside the paint, a mark that ranked last among 63 players who took at least 500 shots from the outside that season.
This season, he’s been worse. Through Wednesday, James has shot 31.0 percent from outside the paint this season, the worst mark of his career.
His effective field goal percentage from outside the paint is higher than it was in his rookie year, because his ratio of 3-point shots to mid-range shots is more than twice as high now (0.83) than it was then (0.39).
James’ poor perimeter shooting actually goes back to April. He shot 26.8 percent from outside the paint in the 2015 playoffs, the worst mark of his postseason career.
This season, 83 players have attempted at least 150 shots from outside the paint, and three of them have made a lower percentage of those shots than James.
Unlike most of the players on the above list, James has taken most of his shots from inside the paint, where he has shot 64.4 percent, the sixth best mark among 118 players who have attempted at least 100 shots there. In fact, he has taken a greater percentage of his shots from the paint this season (57 percent) than he ever has. In his last five games, he’s taken 71 percent of his shots from the paint.
So his poor shooting from the outside doesn’t affect his game as much as it that of other players or that of earlier versions of himself.
Irving’s eventual return could help James’ jumper. Last season, James shot 28-for-71 (39.4 percent) from 3-point range off of Irving’s passes and 38.6 percent from outside the paint with Irving on the floor vs. 32.1 percent with Irving off the floor.
Despite the Irving’s absence, the Cavs have a top-five offense as they enter Thursday’s TNT matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder (8 p.m. ET). Imagine how good they could be if both Irving and James’ jumper return.