The Los Angeles Lakers’ preseason is underway, and we’re getting a chance to see how the team’s offseason acquisitions will gel with their existing roster. As expected, it has been a mixed bag through the team’s first three preseason games, with Coach Darvin Ham mixing and matching lineups to see what works. That experimentation hasn’t stopped at lineups. In fact, it seems that he wants one of his best players to work on expanding his game.
Davis, despite having range out to the 3-point line, hasn’t actually developed into a stretch four or five. Actually, over his 11-year career, he only averages 1.6 3-point attempts per game and barely hits 30% of them.
Still, he shot 40.6% on mid-range jumpers last season—not great but passable—and is a career 79.6% free throw shooter. That suggests that he should be able to expand his range out to three, though six 3-point attempts per game is ambitious, to say the least.
How would Anthony Davis shooting more threes impact the Lakers?
The fact that Ham wants Davis to be more aggressive shooting threes is likely a response to his team struggling to space the floor to start last season. Since then, the Lakers have managed to add more shooting with additions such as D’Angelo Russell, Gabe Vincent, and Taurean Prince. They even added big men such as Jarred Vanderbilt and Christian Wood, both of whom can knock down threes.
Assuming all those players, in addition to LeBron James and Austin Reeves, are part of the Lakers rotation, Davis would be the only non-3-point shooter in the lineup. Were he to become more of an outside threat, the Lakers could have multiple lineups where all five players can hit threes.
That would obviously be difficult to guard, especially with LeBron on the floor and the Lakers running spread pick and roll. They could even have Davis set screens for him and have Davis step out behind the arc, making it much harder to double or trap LeBron without leaving Davis open from deep. Bombing away from outside is key to the Lakers improving their 20th-ranked offense, which is a result of them ranking 26th in 3-point attempts.
Nine teams attempted at least 35 threes per game last season, with four launching at least 40 on average. Meanwhile, the Lakers got up just 31.6 per game. Asking Davis to increase his number of attempts is the most obvious way to try to bridge that gap, and Ham is smart enough to encourage him to try it.
The Lakers are gearing up for the start of the season but are still trying to figure out who'll be their fifth starter and a surprising option has emerged.
Whether Davis can hit those shots remains to be seen, though it is worth experimenting with. So far, in the preseason, he’s shot 3-6 on threes in 27 minutes over two games. That would translate to 7.8 threes per game. If it works, then it would transform Los Angeles’ offense and make them that much harder to guard, particularly with a rotation full of 3-point shooters.