NBA

If Anthony Davis Makes this 1 Change, ‘The Sky is the Limit’ for the Lakers

Anthony Davis is already one of the best players in the NBA. This season, he ranks eighth in the NBA in scoring with 25.8 points per game, tied-for-19th in rebounding with 9.1 rebounds per game, and best in the NBA in blocks with 2.86 per game. Davis and LeBron James have led the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA’s best record this season at 13-2 through their first 15 games. The big man certainly doesn’t need to do anything differently to be effective.

But there is one thing that Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and the coaching staff have been telling Davis to do this season. And if he does make this adjustment, Anthony Davis could be even more difficult for opposing teams to deal with moving forward.

The Lakers are telling Davis to stop hesitating on three-point attempts

Before Friday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Frank Vogel challenged Anthony Davis to take at least five attempts from three-point range. He also told Davis not to hesitate and to fire away when he had an open shot.

“Coach told me to stop hesitating,” Davis said after the game. “When I hesitate, I’m going to come up short or [have] a bad miss. I feel like if I’m open I’m going to shoot it. No hesitation. And seems to go in a lot more when I’m not hesitating.”

On Tuesday night against the Thunder, Anthony Davis tied his season-high in attempts with five three-point attempts, hitting three of them. On Friday in a rematch against the Thunder, he had a new season-high of seven attempts from behind the arc, also setting a new season-high in makes with four three-pointers.

Davis’s teammates see the potential in him shooting more threes as well

The coaching staff aren’t the only ones that want to see Davis shooting from three-point range more often.

“We want him to take more threes,” LeBron James said after Davis’s 4-for-7 effort. “Teams are playing off of him, and he’s too damn good of a shooter not to shoot them. And he’s been doing that the last couple games.”

Rajon Rondo sees the value in this new strategy, too. “He’s already a matchup problem for anybody in the league,” Rondo said. “When he’s stretching the floor with the 5s with his three-point shot, the sky’s the limit for our offense. We’re going to continue to get better at putting points on the board.”

This wrinkle will make the Lakers even tougher to defend

Anthony Davis is a unique NBA superstar that can do it all, including shooting from range
Anthony Davis is a unique NBA superstar that can do it all, including shooting from range | Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Before this season, Anthony Davis had attempted 576 three-pointers in 466 career games for an average of 1.24 attempts per game. He is currently averaging 3.1 attempts per game in 2019-20, and clearly his coaching staff and teammates would like to see that number go up even higher.

If it does, how will opposing teams handle it? Aggressively defending his three-point attempts would leave more room open in the key for offensive weapons like LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, or Davis himself to attack down low. Opposing teams will probably consider it a better alternative just to leave Anthony Davis open on the perimeter and hope for the best.

That strategy worked when Davis wasn’t taking these three-pointers, but now he has the green light to punish opposing teams for leaving him open. He’s 58.3% (7-for-12) from downtown over the Lakers’ last two games; if he keeps hitting open threes, opposing teams will have to adjust, which as mentioned above will only lead to more offense in other avenues.

As Rondo suggested, the sky could really be the limit on this Lakers offense.