Anthony Davis has not only had his worst individual jump-shooting season thus far in the 2021-22 campaign, but he has been among the league’s worst scorers outside of the paint. He has made just nine of his 44 3-point attempts, good for only 20.5 percent from deep, and he hasn’t been much better from mid-range. He’s taking over five shots there per game, but has made only 38.3 percent of them. All told, Davis is shooting over 75 percent in the restricted area … but 34.4 percent everywhere else.
While Davis excelled outside of the paint when the Lakers won the 2020 championship in the Orlando bubble, he largely hasn’t been a strong shooter for the bulk of his career. That hasn’t stopped him from taking those shots, though, and after making both of his 3-point attempts in Sunday’s win over the Detroit Pistons, Davis explained why.
“I’m going to continue to shoot the ball from 3. Whether it goes in or not, I think that opens up the floor for my teammates — LeBron [James], Russ [Westbrook], Talo [Talen Horton-Tucker] — to get downhill. And it opens it up for me to get to the paint when guys run out and are closing out to the three,” Davis said. “I’m just trying to be effective at all three levels of the floor, and it was going for me tonight.”
Whether or not this is the case is ultimately debatable. James is actually shooting significantly better with Davis off the court thus far this season — 55.3 percent from the field vs. 44.8 percent — and the same is true for Talen Horton-Tucker. Russell Westbrook‘s field goal percentage hardly moves when Davis goes to the bench, so on balance, it doesn’t appear as though any of them are benefitting from additional spacing provided by Davis. That makes sense intuitively. Defenses want Davis shooting jumpers. History tells them that that is a poor outcome for his team, so they’re not going to stay at home against him from deep if the alternative is a free lane to the basket for James or Westbrook. Davis can’t be ignored completely. He’s too talented and too dangerous with a head of steam for that, but his shooting just doesn’t create the sort of gravity that a typical shooter’s would.
But dictating a superstar’s shot selection is touchy. If Davis needs jumpers to get into the flow of the game and score more effectively from the interior, the Lakers might be willing to sacrifice some possessions to his longer shots. In a perfect world, Davis would either start making these shots or stop taking them, but the Lakers aren’t going to try to fix something that isn’t broken. Davis is an All-NBA player, and the Lakers are seemingly fine with him just the way he is.