ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last week, after the Miami Heat lost to the San Antonio Spurs, LeBron James was not happy. He finished the game shooting 6-of-18 from the field, and he had one immediate suggestion for his poor shooting night.
“I’m not making excuses, but I’m not a big fan of the jerseys,” LeBron said. “Every time I shoot it feels like it’s just pulling right up underneath my arm. I already don’t have much room for error on my jump shot. It’s definitely not a good thing.”
(His teammate, Dwyane Wade, had a different response: “It ain’t the reason we lost. You’re just not used to it. They [the Spurs] didn’t have a problem with it. It is what it is. Let’s not make this about a jersey, please. We got our butts kicked. That’s it.”)
Ever since the NBA introduced sleeved jerseys last season, response seems to fall on both sides. Both players and fans have been vocal about their feelings — some love them, some hate them. Although as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said at the All-Star Game, “From a fan standpoint, the greatest indicator is how are they selling, and I’ll say we’re having trouble keeping them in the stores. There’s enormous demand for those jerseys. Fans like them and I happen to like them, too.”
LeBron may not enjoy wearing them, but perhaps LeBron is the outlier here? While King James says he hasn’t been as successful in the sleeves, according to statistician Ed Kupfer, who works with the Houston Rockets, teams wearing sleeved jerseys have on the whole shot better than teams in tank tops.
Kupfer later clarified that this was eFG%, or “effective field goal percentage,” which basically factors in that three-pointers are worth more than two pointers. (Here’s an explanation.)
But even in raw numbers, three-point percentages seem to be up while wearing sleeves…
And sure, I understand that we’re dealing with a much smaller sample size here when it comes to the sleeved jerseys, but numbers never lie, right? Or maybe they do?
Either way, perhaps there are some players who are just beyond sleeves…
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