For years now, it has been very obvious that surrounding LeBron James with shooters is a surefire way to success. This Los Angeles Lakers team has basically no one who would be considered a shooter, but the exception to that is second-year wing Matt Ryan.
The Lakers brought Ryan into training camp and his ability from deep earned him the team’s final roster spot. Few would have expected him to have any major impact, but with the team starved for shooting, Darvin Ham turned to Ryan and he has delivered for the most part. That was certainly the case in Wednesday night’s victory over the New Orleans Pelicans when Ryan hit the biggest shot of his career, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that sent the game to overtime.
Ryan has seemingly turned into a household name overnight, but he understands the work is not done yet. Speaking with Joe Vardon of The Athletic, Ryan says that he wants to prove he’s the best shooter every time he steps in the gym and plans on earning the trust of LeBron, hopefully becoming his next great shooter teammate:
“Every day I’ve got to come in and prove I’m the best shooter in the gym,” Ryan said. “The biggest difference between what I’ve experienced so far in the NBA compared to prior teams is just the trust between teammates. Being on the Lakers now and playing with such prestigious players, I find myself open a lot but not getting the ball because the trust isn’t there yet.
“Playing with LeBron, who has had just so much success in his career and has had success with shooters, I think a time is coming where he’s really gonna look at me, like one of those next really good shooters that he has. At least, that’s what I can hope for.”
The list of great shooting teammates of LeBron James is a long one with some of the best the NBA has ever seen. Players such as Ray Allen, Kyle Korver, Mike Miller, James Jones and JR Smith have all played big roles on James-led championship teams and Ryan hopes to add his name to that list.
Of course things are still very early in his career, but Ryan is certainly on the right track to having a long tenure in the league. There is always a place for shooting in the NBA, especially on this Lakers team, so he could have the opportunity to get exactly what he hopes for next to LeBron.
Ryan has ‘unwavering’ confidence in his shooting ability
Prior to that buzzer-beating shot, Ryan wasn’t having his best game as he was just 2-of-8 from 3-point range for the Lakers. But when Darvin Ham drew up the play for him, Ryan was ready and felt he would come through because he has the ultimate confidence in his shooting ability.
“My confidence when it comes to shooting is unwavering,” Ryan said. “I wouldn’t be here if that wasn’t the case after the past year and a half, two years I’ve had. I wouldn’t be able to play at this level if I didn’t think I could. I wasn’t making a lot of shots all game, I had I think three or four in-and-outs and I’m just thankful Coach gave me another opportunity to hit a 3 at the end to send it to OT.”
That confidence is clear to anyone as Ryan does not hesitate to launch the ball up the second he is even a little bit open. But when you are a shooter, that is the right mindset to have.