The Los Angeles Lakers went into Friday with the third-best 3-point percentage in the NBA and were hot from the outside once again in their 112-95 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, hitting 15 3s at Staples Center.
LeBron James was responsible for two of them, going 2-for-6 from deep, which caused his season percentage to dip ever so slightly to 38.2% — which would be the second-best 3-point shooting season of his 18-year career should he keep it up.
Earlier in the week, Lakers coach Frank Vogel said James was “probably the best shooter on our team,” which begs the question: Does James agree with his coach?
“I mean, we got a lot of great shooters on the team, man,” James said. “KCP [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope], a great shooter. Wes Matthews, great shooter. Kuz [Kyle Kuzma] can shoot the heck out of the ball. Dennis the Menace [Dennis Schroder] can shoot the ball. AD [Anthony Davis] can shoot the ball. So we got a lot of great knock-down shooters.
“Obviously, if someone says, ‘Bet,’ then obviously you guys know, I’m going to take myself. That’s just the competitive nature in me and the work ethic that I put into my shot. But I feel real good with my shot right now, both from the free throw line and also from the 3-point line, and I want to continue that.”
Davis, who lifted his 3-point marksmanship from 33% in his first season in L.A. to 39.4% going into the Pelicans game, slotted James a bit lower.
“I would have to say Kenny is always our guy who we always look to for shots,” Davis said, referring to Caldwell-Pope. “Wes is still struggling to find his consistent 3. He’s been getting open looks, but I still put Wes up there. I put Bron third, just because of this year he’s been able to shoot the ball extremely well. Marc [Gasol] can shoot it. Marc is up there. And then I put myself. Dudz [Jared Dudley]. AC [Alex Caruso].”
For those scoring at home, that is nine different 3-point shooters rattled off by the Lakers’ co-captains — and doesn’t even include guys such as Quinn Cook and Markieff Morris, who live beyond the arc when they’re on the court.
Caldwell-Pope, who shot 4-for-6 from 3 on Friday and moved past Metta World Peace for ninth place on the Lakers’ all-time franchise list for 3-pointers made, was not ready to crown James as the team’s 3-point shooting king so long as he is involved.
“Numbers don’t lie,” he said, alluding to the career-best 55.3% he’s shooting from 3 so far this season. “But I’m really enjoying LeBron shooting the ball. He’s shooting it at a tremendous clip. He’s knocking them down and it’s fun seeing him have [success] shooting the ball as well. But we all know, I’m the real shooter, for sure.”
He might have a legitimate claim there, but, as Davis pointed out, everyone also knows that James gets certain privileges that Caldwell-Pope will never see.
“You know LeBron’s always going to be up there because he shoots a ton of them, especially when he gets hot, and starts shooting halfcourt and things like that,” Davis said. “I don’t think Coach will allow Kenny to do that.”