If there’s been one lingering issue for the Lakers here in the first month of the Anthony Davis-LeBron James era, it’s been the question of shooting. Davis and James are combining to take 38.0 shots from the field per game, which means they account for 42.2 percent of the Lakers offense. It’s up to everyone else to use the other 57.8 percent of the attempts available to space the floor and take advantage of the attention Davis and James attract—especially at the 3-point line.
That’s been a season-long weak point, though. The Lakers are making 32.7 percent of their 3-pointers and of the flaws that remain in Frank Vogel’s roster, that is the most important. Danny Green is making 44.2 percent of his 3s. Every other Laker who has attempted five or more 3-pointers is at 33.3 percent or worse.
L.A. has put together back-to-back games with great 3-point shooting—40.0 percent in a win over Phoenix on Tuesday followed by 45.0 percent in a win over the Warriors on Wednesday—but those were the first times the Lakers topped 40 percent from the arc this season.
Maybe that’s the answer for the team’s shooting woes: Give it more time, let players settle into their roles and go from there. Or maybe there are adjustments to be made. Let’s have a look at some of the options.
Play Jared Dudley
Maybe that should be, PLAY JARED DUDLEY! It’s certainly been a mystery as to why he’s been glued to the bench. He should have a role with this team.
On Opening Night, Dudley logged 13 minutes and made each of the two 3-pointers he attempted. Over the following nine games, he had fours DNPs and played a total of 22 minutes. But against the Warriors on Wednesday, Vogel snapped out of it and finally got Dudley back onto the floor for 22 minutes. He was rewarded, as Dudley made both of his 3-point attempts and added four assists and three rebounds.
Trade a Draft Pick for a Shooter
Don’t hold your breath on this one. The Lakers have very little to offer teams in a trade this season, having dealt away first-round draft picks in 2021 and 2023 to land Anthony Davis, which means the only pick they can trade is the one they have in 2025.
Maybe they’d be willing to do that if the right shooter is available, but they’re not going to dump that pick to fix a short-term hole. They may need it to make a trade as the team develops over the next couple of years.
Trade Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
This is a worthy scenario in the pipe dreams of Lakers fans, but for the rest of the league, it’s a non-starter. Caldwell-Pope seems afraid to shoot and with good reason—he’s making 36.2 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from the 3-point line. Moreover, it’s a non-starter with L.A. KCP is a Rich Paul client and the Lakers aren’t going to dump a client of the guy who got James and Davis to the purple-and-gold.
“He’s not someone whose name is brought up,” one front-office executive said. “He doesn’t have a lot of appeal and they’re not trying to move him as far as I can tell.”
Go Get J.R. Smith
As long as Smith remains a free agent, there will be chatter about a possible spot on the Lakers. He did spend four years with James in Cleveland, after all. But it’s likely that Smith’s time in the league has come to an end—he’s 34, after all, has not played in an NBA game since November 19 of 2018 and shot 30.8 percent from the 3-point line in 11 games with the Cavaliers last year.
Even at his best in the last few seasons, Smith has done little other than shoot 3s and if the Lakers want a shooter, they should be able to find a younger, better option.
Go Get Andre Iguodala
According to league sources, the Lakers remain the favorites to land Iguodala should the Grizzlies buy out his contract after the trade deadline. There are other teams interested in making a trade for Iguodala, but none will meet the Grizzlies asking price of a first-round pick, so the stalemate lingers.
“The Lakers are still the favorite,” one GM said. “Someone’s going to have to make a risky move for a 35-year-old to make a trade work. Who’s going to do that?”
But the broader issue with Iguodala is that, though he will provide good perimeter defense, an ability to get into transition and a knack for ballhandling/passing, he won’t be a knockdown 3-point shooter. For his career, Iguodala made 33.3 percent of his 3s and in his last two seasons, he made only 31.0 percent from the arc.
Move the Ball
We’re starting to see the Lakers look less disjointed on the offensive end as they’ve gotten more comfortable in the offense. In their first seven games, the Lakers were 22nd in assist percentage, at 56.1. But as the ball has moved more in the past four games, the shooting percentages have crept upward. The Lakers’ assist percentage has been second in the league over those four games, at 72.8.
They still shot only 25.0 percent from the 3-point line against Miami, but that went up to 33.3 percent against Toronto and has been better than 40 percent for the last two games. Dudley credited James with making ball movement a focus.
“Once we lost to Toronto, I think LeBron made a huge effort in that Phoenix game to move the ball, side-to-side,” Dudley told reporters. “If we just continue to make the right plays, we should never shoot tough shots unless it’s LeBron or AD. We have so much time, so many guys who can get double-teams and create for others.”