LeBron James has led the Los Angeles Lakers to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference this season. As it stands, the Lakers are the odds-on favorites to win the 2020 NBA title, but they’ve been exposed for one glaring weakness that could cost them a championship later this year. James and Anthony Davis might be the best 1-2 punch in the NBA, but the Lakers’ 3-point shooting woes will be the downfall of the 2020 title favorites.
The LA Lakers are the favorites to win the 2020 NBA title
The Lakers have been maybe the most impressive team in the NBA all season. With James and Davis leading the way, LA has cruised to a 51-16 record. The Lakers still have five regular season games remaining, but they’ve already locked up the No. 1 seed in the West. They currently sit as the favorites to win the 2020 NBA title at +210 odds.
As a surprise to some, the Lakers have been so successful mostly because of their defense this season. LA boasts the second-best statistical defense in the entire NBA, as they allow just 106.8 points per game.
They’ve needed all of that elite defense to secure the No. 1 seed out West, too. The Lakers have actually been one of the worst shooting teams in the league all season long. It’s finally catching up to them in the NBA bubble, and it could spell trouble down the road in the playoffs.
The Lakers are a poor 3-point shooting team, and it’s only getting worse
Although the Lakers’ defense has been strong all season and they’ve put together an impressive record thus far, there’s still a glaring weakness for LA that they can’t ignore — 3-point shooting.
So far in the 2020 season, the Lakers rank 23rd in the league in 3-point shooting percentage (34.8%), and it’s only gotten worse in the Orlando bubble.
The Lakers are shooting a horrendous 25.2% from deep in the bubble, which is more than 4% worse than the next lowest team. In turn, LA has been the worst scoring team in Orlando, averaging just 99.3 points per game through three games.
Defense can only keep you afloat for so long. At some point, you have to hit outside shots. The Lakers have been woeful from beyond the arc as of late, and it’s led to two blowout losses in Orlando.
Terrible 3-point shooting will cost the Lakers a title
If this was the 1980s or 1990s, the Lakers’ shooting woes wouldn’t be as much of a problem. But in today’s NBA, there’s been a premium placed on 3-point shooting, and you can’t contend nowadays if you can’t knock down triples.
Last year, the Toronto Raptors won the title with the sixth-best 3-point percentage in the league. Before that, the Golden State Warriors won with the best percentage in the NBA.
The last time a team won an NBA title while shooting worse than 35% from three was all the way back in 2009-10. The good news for LA? That team was the Lakers.
Ten years later, though, teams are shooting and making more threes than ever before. Final scores are soaring into the 120s and 130s, and the Lakers just won’t be able to keep up if they continue to struggle from deep. If LA can’t improve on the 3-point shooting, that one glaring weakness will cost them a championship in 2020.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference