Since his rockstar-like rookie season, up to his current stint in Tinseltown, Lebron James has never been known for much of a jump shot guy. King James was known for his freakish athletic ability, size, and playmaking abilities. There might not ever be a time where Lebron joins the three-point contest, but he has put in enough work overtime to make his jumper respectable.
While exceptions do exist, there are four general fundamentals to a solid form on your jump shot:
- Shooting elbow aimed at the basket– The basketball hoop is where you are targeting, so it only makes sense to align the shooting arm with the basket.
- Feet and Shoulders squared with the basket– Aiming your body where you are shooting is essentially steering the car straight on a one way. Turning will cause the vehicle to move elsewhere. Sometimes you might make it where you need to go, but it is not consistent enough to rely on.
- The hand not shooting is only there to guide the ball– The offside hand is there to guide the ball, not give you an extra boost in strength. Especially with younger kids jacking up Steph Curry three-pointers, the left hand is used to supplement for the distance. Using this hand too much can alter the rotation of spin, a la Joakim Noah’s weird ass free throw shot.
- Snap the wrist and follow through– Snapping the wrist on follow through creates backspin, which helps in the result your slowing down if it hits the rim. A ” dead ” ball bouncing on the rim has no give to it and will bounce around like a rock. Backspin on the ball gives you more room for error, as the ball is softer on the surface of the rim.
- Do not fade or lean on the shot– Leaning or fading throws your balance off, which leads to your feet or shoulders becoming unsquared with the hoop.
The first example is taking from the 2004 NBA All-Star game, Lebron’s first of many appearances in the game.
As we can see from the shot below, Lebron has his right elbow sticking way too far out, with the ball going to the right side and somewhat behind his head. Almost in a slingshot motion.
Taking a look at his left hand, we can also see that he uses this hand to push the ball a tad bit. This would give him a little extra strength behind the shot; this makes sense as Lebron is still adjusting to the NBA three line.
The next Lebron shot comes years later in 2013, where Lebron ices the NBA Finals with a jumper over Kawhi Leonard.
Compared to the shot above from 2004, the form looks entirely different. Lebron did not fling the ball to the right of his head, and the guiding hand isn’t helping him on the release.
Right before Lebron rises to shoot, we can also see him bring his right foot center, which causes him to square up with the basket. On his first gather, LeBron had his right foot facing the baseline, which would have thrown off his body alignment about the hoop.
Lebron does add a little fade to the shot, clearing just enough space where Leonard can’t bother his attempt.
2017 & 2018 Lebron:
The Final two Lebron shots are not too different, compared to his 2004 shot at least. On both shots, we see Lebron has his shoulders and feet squared to the hoop. Lebron now brings the ball above his forehead, while keeping his elbow directed at the basket.
The main difference between the shots, his is 2018 from has a quicker release than his 2017 shot. On the Cleveland release, look how Lebron has a slight hitch at the release, almost making him release the ball on the way down.
This is fundamentally changing his form from ” Two motions ” to ” One Motion.” The One motion shot is what Steph Curry uses, which is why it looks like he is straight heaving the rock.
Two Motion shots have what looks like a hitch, but its really ” cocking ” the ball before release. Michael Jordan is an excellent example of this, as he would cock the wrist above his head, then enter his release to snapping the wrist.
On both these shots, Lebron Jame is doing an excellent job of snapping his wrist to generate backspin. And while both shots are very similar, the 2018 shot has a quicker release.
Shooting only 29 percent from downtown so far this season, Lebron’s shot is still a work in progress. Currently 16 years into his career, there is just so much more that can be done to improve these numbers. Better shot selection maybe, cut back on the ” LeFuck you ” threes or pull up fadeaway threes Lebron sometimes does.