Last year Lebron James made a statement about Denver Nuggets poor shooting. After last Tuesday's game in Denver, Lebron may have a new view of how difficult it is to adjust to and from high altitude 3-point shooting.
In season's past, Lebron has had a good game in Denver and returned later for a bad one. Tuesday in his most recent trip, he had arguably the worst game in his career going 0 for 4 from outside and helping his team to an embarrassing loss to the Nuggets.
The Lakers as a team shot 5 for 35 on three pointers as they sported a +21.88 VMI, meaning their shots would be several inches long and each player must adjust. No Laker hit more than 1 3-pointer in their loss to the Nuggets whose VMI was 5 something, meaning they would probably be less than an inch off from their usual shooting distance.
The truth is, this does not mean it will happen every time a team transitions to Denver or Utah or Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Atlanta and a couple other higher altitude venues. We don't know the percentages of accurate determination of either wins & losses, or 3-point shooting, or defensive rebounding yet. It may take a full season, or more to determine what the percentages of accuracy the VMI can be trusted for, but it now appears that day is going to arrive.
When I first began to observe the three-point shooting differential was in 2001 to 2005, or about the time Josh Kroenke was playing for the University of Missouri Tigers Basketball Team. The Tigers transitioned from Missouri to the University of Colorado for a game which I was totally convinced would be a "Slam Dunk" win for Colorado due to outside shooting.
The absolute opposite happened. The Tigers adjusted very nicely in that game and sunk 3-pointer after 3-pointer in a blow out win against Colorado in Boulder at 5,500 feet in elevation. In particular, I noticed that the success seemed to come when they stepped back a few feet from the three point arc to shoot. Those longer shots happened to be the perfect way to combat the altitude for that game, but it doesn't always work that way. Kobe Bryant did the same thing against the Denver Nuggets on many occasions, but he too, struggled to make it work all the time.
So, all we can say at this point is that the players need to adjust. Some will adjust better than others and some teams will adjust better, as well. However, there is a percentage that will reveal itself some time this year. It will be repeated over the next couple years to provide us with an answer as to how often do individuals and teams make the adjustment flawlessly, and how often can we count on disaster for the teams trying to overcome the altitude transitions.