Just 14.8 Percent Shooting: Lakers Should Be Concerned About Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis, Lakers

Getty Anthony Davis, Lakers

It was just a little more than one minute into the Lakers career of big man Anthony Davis, the beginning of his much-anticipated collaboration with LeBron James, on Tuesday and he found himself relatively unguarded out beyond the 3-point line. He took a big stride forward, pulled up in front of Clippers center Ivica Zubac and launched a pull-up shot from 19 feet.

Only problem was, the shot went 18 feet and whiffed completely. This, then, will be memorialized as the first shot Davis took in the gold-and-purple:

This is worth noting because it could be symbolic of a distressing development in Davis’ game of late: He can’t shoot. That’s was especially evident in last night’s loss to the Clippers in the season opener, when Davis finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

But he was just 8-for-21 from the floor and the breakdown of those shots is disturbing: 7-for-12 in the paint, 0-for-2 from the 3-point line and 1-for-7 on midrange shots.

It’s just one game, of course—except that it isn’t. This has been part of Davis’ month. He played four games in the preseason and was a mere 1-for-9 from the 3-point line. He was 2-for-9 on midrange shots. Mix it all up and for the month of October, Davis is now 4-for-27 on shots from outside the paint. That’s a measly 14.8 percent.

Anthony Davis’ Shooting Struggles Are Not New

Even before last night’s game, a Western Conference scout spoke about defending Davis. “He is a guy you have to back off of now,” the scout said. “He can put it on the floor but his shooting does not scare people much. He’s not the same shooter he used to be. You can back off of him on screens and make him hit some shots before you start respecting that.”

Indeed, the numbers show that Davis, who built his scoring repertoire around his very good pick-and-pop midrange game in New Orleans, has not had as much success with those shots in recent years. He has tried to stretch his game out to the 3-point line with minimal success so far—33.6 percent from the arc in his last two seasons—and as he has done so, his midrange game has suffered.

The following chart shows Davis’ shooting in the midrange over the last five seasons and his 3-point shooting in that same timeframe.

Year Midrange FGA Midrange Pct. 3-pt FGA 3-pt Pct.
2018-19 4.2 35.5 2.6 33.1
2017-18 5.3 36.4 2.2 34.0
2016-17 7.6 42.8 1.8 29.9
2015-16 7.4 42.4 1.8 32.4
2014-15 7.9 43.4 0.2 8.3

The slippage in Davis’ midrange game has been going on for the past three years and it’s a concern for the Lakers as they try to construct an offense around Davis’ ability to work with James.

It’s just one game but, from the perspective of his perimeter game, it is a red flag for Davis. Without a consistent jumper, Davis becomes a lot easier to defend. The rest of the league knows it.

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