This past summer, the Los Angeles Lakers had a number of holes to fill in their roster, especially after trading away six players in the blockbuster move for Anthony Davis in July. However, there was arguably no bigger need for than the LeBron James-led Lakers than 3-point shooting.
Last season, the Lakers finish among the bottom-three teams in 3-point percentage for the third time in five years. Part of that had to do with the personnel they already had on the roster, but the front office didn’t put much of an emphasis on 3-point shooting in last year’s free agency period, either — instead focusing on rebounders and playmakers.
This year, they didn’t make the same mistake. In fact, their first signing of free agency was Troy Daniels, a career 40% shooter from behind the 3-point line.
Daniels singed a one-year deal with the Lakers for the veteran’s minimum in July and through two regular season games with Los Angeles, he already looks like he’s going to outplay that contract.
Daniels’ most impressive outing with the Lakers came on Friday, when he scored 15 points against the Utah Jazz on four 3-point makes, three of which came during the team’s thrilling third quarter run. On the season, the 28-year-old shooting guard is shooting 38.5% from 3-point range on 6.5 attempts per game.
Granted, it’s a small sample size, but it’s consistent with what he’s shown throughout his six-year NBA career, which is why Daniels’ new superstar teammate LeBron James gave him the nickname “layup.”
“Every time he shoots a three, it’s a layup,” James said after the Lakers’ 95-86 win over the Jazz on Friday.
Daniels said that James started calling him layup at the minicamp James held in Las Vegas last month: “I think we had a workout where I didn’t even miss.”
Unsurprisingly, Daniels is enjoying the types of looks he’s getting playing alongside James and Anthony Davis so far.
”It’s unbelievable,” Daniels said. “It’s kind of easy, to be honest with you because he creates for everybody and he draws so much attention. Over the course of my career the shots have been a lot harder but these shots are starting to be a little more open because of how much attention he commands, both he and AD. So it’s fun to play with them.”
As long as his 3-point shot is falling, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel says Daniels has a spot in the rotation.
“He’s earned a spot in the rotation with his ability to shoot the basketball. He’s arguably the best shooter on the team and he’s the kind of player you want to put around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He works really hard on the defensive end, so he pulls his own weight on that side of the floor and when he’s out there, he not only brings gravity, but when the help comes he’s able to punish defenses and he did both of those tonight.”
Daniels understands that Vogel’s not going to ask him to guard the other team’s best offensive player, but he also knows that he has to show effort on the defensive end to stand out amongst the glut of guards on the Lakers.
”Obviously I’m not the best athlete in the world, but just talking, flying around, getting deflections, rebounding, being in the right spots as a team defender ... That’s how I stay on the floor,” Daniels said.
Daniels has played for six teams in six years — some good, some not so good — and the Lakers could just be another stop along the way. While he’s in Los Angeles, though, he said he’s going to have faith in his abilities.
”Always believe, even if people don’t believe in you, believe in yourself,” Daniels said wearing a bracelets that say “believe” and “dominate.”
“I’m always confident in what I do, so I work hard every day and I’m glad to show it out there tonight.”