LeBron James has never been a lights-out shooter. If there is one clear weakness in his game, especially in clutch moments, it’s his irregular free throw shooting.
When compared to fellow all-time greats such as Michael Jordan (83% FT shooter), Larry Bird (88% FT shooter) and Kobe Bryant (83% FT shooter), James has shot a mediocre 74 percent from the free throw line over the 13 seasons of his pro basketball career.
This season, James shot just 63 percent from the line in his first 14 games. During a home win against Orlando Magic on November 23, the four-time MVP missed four of his five attempts.
“Made me extremely mad,” LeBron said of missing those freebies against Orlando. “I know what I’ve been shooting from the line the last few games … missing those last three hurt me really bad,” added James.
But LeBron James is a perfectionist. He went back to the drawing board and saw footage from his years with Miami Heat when he shot better than 80 percent from the line for a month. He watched and changed his mechanics in a conscious effort to improve those numbers. “Free-throw shooting is all mental. Obviously there is some technique, of course. But it’s mental,” said James.
Since that game against Magic, James is shooting more than 80 percent from the line. “I’ve always had ambitions to shoot in the high 80s. I’ve been shooting them extremely well the last couple weeks, so I have to continue my routine, continue to put in the work as I’ve been and live with the results,” said the former two time NBA champion.
During the playoffs, free throws make a telling impact and could decide the fate of a team. It’s no wonder James is hell-bent on ironing out his flaws. With James gunning for that elusive third ring, it’s in his best interests to make all the free throws that he can.
Next on LeBron James’ target? To improve from deep. “Now I just have to get my three-point shooting up,” said LeBron, who is shooting only 26% from the three-point line this season.