The Los Angeles Lakers have continued to stumble without star big man Anthony Davis. The star big man is moving closer to his return with a chance to play Sunday against the Miami Heat. Meanwhile, Davis has utilized the time away to hone in on a crucial part of his game.
Anthony Davis is nearing his return
Davis spent last summer revamping his offseason workout regimen, including changing his trainer.
However, the eight-time All-Star couldn’t escape the injury bug as he’s missed 16 consecutive games due to a sprained MCL in his left knee. Davis has played 27 games, averaging 23.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks while shooting 52.1% from the floor.
He continues to ramp up his rehab work with the possibility of playing in Sunday’s contest road game against the Heat. The Lakers have struggled to find any consistency with Davis out, holding a 7-9 record, falling toward the backend of the Western Conference playoff picture.
Davis has spent his time off the court working on his health while also addressing another important area of his game.
Anthony Davis’ injury forced him to finally address his major weakness
As Davis inches closer to his imminent return, the star big man has ramped up his on-court work.
He has used the time away to get healthy and improve his shooting form. According to ESPN‘s Dave McMenamin, Davis focused intently on his shooting touch in his rehab work.
“Davis has used the rehabilitation to work on not only his knee but his shot mechanics as well, sources told ESPN,’ McMenamin wrote.
Beyond his health issues, Davis has notably struggled with his outside shooting touch in his third campaign in Los Angeles. Although he’s shooting 52.1% from the floor, he’s hitting only 32% of his attempts from outside the paint, including an atrocious 17.9% from beyond the arc.
Davis hasn’t been discouraged by his shooting inefficiency, but it’s clearly an area he wants to drastically improve as it’s become a crucial part of his game. He hasn’t hit an encouraging percentage (career 30.4% from 3-point range), but he’s been a respectable shooter from deep when healthy.
His shooting has been impacted the last two seasons by his health issues, hitting only 26% from deep in the 2020-21 campaign. In the previous three seasons, he hit at least 33% from 3-point range, proving he can be a threat from distance.
If Davis can improve his outside shot, it would provide a significant offensive boost. However, Los Angeles needs him to return to being aggressive. His inconsistent assertiveness as a scorer could be associated with his nagging health issues.
Still, if the Lakers are going to contend for the NBA title, he needs to be a dominant offensive factor.
Lakers need Anthony Davis to dominate
Davis’ return provides a much-needed boost as he will take some significant pressure off LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.
His presence should see the Lakers’ defense notably improve as he will anchor the middle while moving James out of the majority of his playing time at center. Davis needs to become the central offensive factor he was when he first joined the Lakers that allowed James to excel efficiently.
Los Angeles is running the risk of exhausting James before the playoffs, as he’s playing at an MVP level in his 19th campaign. Davis must showcase why he earned the reputation as one of the game’s best talents if the Lakers hope to vie for a second NBA title in three years.