Although LeBron James has been great for the Los Angeles Lakers, he has struggled to make free throws in big situations.
LeBron James has put together some big numbers in his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Through 13 appearances, James is averaging 26.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per night for Los Angeles.
Such statistics are honestly nothing new for King James, who has been doing this sort of thing for many years now. There is a reason the man is in the MVP conversation on a consistent basis.
However, there is a certain area that has plagued James at times throughout his NBA journey. Some individuals to this very day wonder if the 33-year-old is a clutch player or not.
So far in his tenure with L.A., the same question has arisen and Sunday night’s contest against Atlanta was no exception.
With less than a shot clock’s worth of time in the fourth quarter, LeBron earned a trip to the charity stripe. At that particular juncture, the Lakers were trailing by one point. That being said, it was crucial for James to convert both of his free throw attempts.
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Unfortunately, the 16-year veteran missed both opportunities. Frankly, it is not the first time Lakers’ fans have seen their superstar miss free throws during major moments.
As a result, the question of whether James is clutch late in games came up yet again. Some folks were likely thinking to themselves: “Surely, Kobe Bryant would not have failed in that situation.”
While Bryant was the master of the fourth quarter, an argument of that nature is moot. The Black Mamba is no longer playing basketball, and he has stated before that he feels content about his decision.
Thankfully, the Lakers still managed to pull off the win against Atlanta despite James’ inability to make those free throws. After the former Cavalier failed to cash in the second time around, Kyle Kuzma swooped in for the offensive board to give L.A. some life.
Following the rebound, Kuzma put up a short shot that would have given the Lakers the slight advantage. Alas, “Kuuuz” did not convert, but a certain someone collected his missed field goal attempt.
That dude was none other than James, who quickly, ferociously threw down a put-back slam dunk with both hands.
Fortunately, that same dunk ended up being the game-winning shot for the Lakers in the grand scheme of things.
Needless to say, it took a lot of extra work to for that to occur, though. It is easy to go back and remember the free throws that the 6-foot-8 James botched.
As was alluded to, this was not the first time No. 23 has failed to make free throws when the lights are at their brightest. Via Matthew Moreno of Lakers Nation, James understands this and knows he needs to improve in this department moving forward.
“I’m garbage. I suck from the free throw line right now,” James said post game. “I’ll get my rhythm back. I thank Kuz for giving us another opportunity. He gave me another shot, so I tried to get him another shot.”
In 2018-2019, James is shooting 73.6 percent from the charity stripe. That mark just barely falls below his career average.
Although that is true, the three-time champion did just fine in many other facets of the game. In the tight win, LBJ had 26 points, 7 rebounds, 4 dimes, and a pair of steals for the Lakers.
Nevertheless, it will be key for James to get better in this area as time progresses. He missed four free throws for his team on Sunday evening. That is not going to cut it.
In all sincerity, though, various guys on the Lakers have struggled to make their free throws. There have been too many occasions where someone is only making one out of two attempts. When this is happening several times over the course of a game, it adds up more and more.
Given that L.A. has been in many close games, the whole team could use some improvement in this neck of the woods.
In doing so, the Lakers will make matters a lot easier for themselves in the later stages of games. Free throws are all mental, so it will be up to the Lakers to calm their nerves whenever free throw chances present themselves.
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