Yes, you read that correctly. ESPN ranked LeBron James ahead of Golden State Warriors’ guard Klay Thompson on a list of the decade’s best shooters.
ESPN ranked the best shooters of the decade. Golden State Warriors’ two-time MVP and star point guard Stephen Curry came in at the very top of the ten-player list. Second was another familiar name: Kevin Durant.
The next one, however, may have you scratching your head.
LeBron James came in at No. 3. How does a player that cannot even shoot an 80% free throw come in so high on a list of the decade’s best shooters? Well, columnist Kirk Goldsberry explains why, and as you may have guessed, it has more to do with James’ full offensive arsenal.
Goldsberry, as he’s penning his part on James, doesn’t even try to provide much detail into how well he shoots from deep. He keeps it more mainstreamed, talking about his presence in the paint and how he’s scored more points than any other player in the past decade.
"It’s fair to say that James is just an average jump-shooter; he made only 38.3% of his shots beyond 8 feet during the 2010s. But it’s impossible to argue that the decade’s leading scorer has an offensive formula that’s anything short of awesome."
What doesn’t come across well is the fact that this list is about the decade’s top shooters. If you line Klay Thompson and LeBron James up at anywhere on the court, maybe outside of just the paint, who is going to win?
Goldsberry basically answers that in Thompson’s section.
"Thompson made the third-most 3-point shots this decade, trailing only Harden and Curry. But what’s incredible is that he did that as second or third banana on one of the era’s most dominant teams."
When talking about shooters, Klay Thompson should arguably be ahead of Kevin Durant as well.
After all, how many other players have kicked off their first eight years in the league shooting over 40% from deep in each? It certainly isn’t Kevin Durant, LeBron James or James Harden, who came in at No. 5. Harden and James combined have done it in one season.
Per the scoring efficiency metric that Goldsberry did use, his rankings make sense. It’s just to the common eye, you’d think that a player like Kyle Korver should be considered a better “shooter” of the decade.
Rankings are made to be controversial, though, right?