How do superstars like LeBron James and Stephen Curry deal with repeated failure? Does the constant missing get in their heads? I examined these questions for Nylon Calculus in my story, “LeBron, Curry, and the mentality of missing”
To quantify how players react to missing field goals, I looked up the 2016-17 regular-season shot logs of the four most-prolific Cavalier shooters (James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and J.R. Smith) and the four most-prolific Warrior shooters (Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green) on Basketball-Reference. I identified every cold-shooting streak suffered by one of those players — as many as ten straight missed shots in a single game — and I calculated the change in shot distance following each of these cold streaks.
For comparison, I used the same approach for hot-shooting streaks
My initial approach of looking at changes in shot distances after missed field goals encouraged me to construe a cause-and-effect relationship that might not actually exist. This distortion is especially strong for James, who has the biggest discrepancy in made-vs.-missed shot distances among the eight players I evaluated (7.7 feet).
“Ima shoot it til my arms fall off.” -KD