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Anthony Davis wants to improve his ballhandling, 3-point shooting and free-throw percentage while getting stronger this summer

As crazy as it sounds, there is still plenty Anthony Davis can do to improve in his first season with the Lakers.

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Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Anthony Davis - Press Conference Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

As it stands, Anthony Davis is plenty worthy of the effusive praise Rob Pelinka heaped onto him during his introductory press conference over the weekend. The insane thing to keep in mind is: Davis is only 26 years old, and could fairly easily get better.

That sound you’re hearing is Pelinka flipping through his thesaurus, Bible and Greek Mythological encyclopedia for new and wilder ways to contextualize how he feels about Davis. This could reach actual hilarity soon, you guys.

During an interview with “Mason and Ireland” on ESPN 710, Davis was asked where he’s focused on improving this summer. The aspects of his game he’d like to take a step forward on are all immensely useful, especially on this Lakers team:

“I do have stuff I like to work on. I’d like to get my handle tighter, I’d like to improve the three. I think I shot low-to-mid 20’s this year (Davis actually shot 33.1% from three), I want to get that higher. I want to shoot 85%-plus from the line, I think I shot like 83 this year (actually 79.5%), or something like that. Or even getting to 90.”

Free-throw shooting in general is a great way to get better as a shooter. Not only does it force you to focus on the muscle memory aspect of shooting, but the more confident a player is at the line, the more willing they are to attack the basket (Lonzo Ball is basically the antithesis to this) and thus become more efficient offensively.

Davis is a career 31 percent 3-point shooter and has improved over the years, but he doesn’t take nearly enough threes per game to actual spread out the defense in ways he’d probably like to. A lot of this has to do with his footwork, and the Lakers hiring Phil Handy will hugely help in that regard.

If Davis wants to play the four, he’ll really have to improve this facet of his game. Before DeMarcus Cousins tore his achilles, he shot 37 percent from three in New Orleans. If he regains some of that shooting and Davis improves his own, they really could make a ton of sense playing alongside each other (as they’d probably like to).

More important than any one skill, though, will be Davis’ health. The two seasons before last year (which we won’t count because of the trade demand), he played 75 games apiece. before that, he was consistently in the 60’s for total games played. He says his focus is to get and stay healthy by improving his overall strength:

“There’s a lot that I work on and try and maintain. But at the same time, the biggest thing for me is trying to stay healthy and stay on the floor for the entire season. To do that I have to commit to the weight room and try to get stronger.

“Every summer I try to focus on getting stronger in some aspect of my body, and that’s been a focus for me this summer as well, just making sure that my body can withstand an 82-game season. That’s what I’ve been focused on since May 1, just trying to get my body right and let the basketball stuff take care of itself.”

This is far and away the most important aspect of Davis’ game, and of this season. Last year, the Lakers had their season derailed by a slip and a torn groin from LeBron James. If James or Davis spend a considerable amount of time on the disabled list, well, let’s just not go there.

Davis understanding that and focusing on putting himself in the best possible position physically is a tremendous start at the very least.

Now, very rarely do players live up to all their offseason promises. Larry Nance Jr. is on a four-summer-streak of promoting how hard he worked on his three-point shot, for example, but if Davis merely checks off a couple of his offseason boxes, then Pelinka might actually run out of words of praise.

Oh, who are we kidding. Pelinka would still find a way, and it would be great to watch Davis’ improvements force him to.

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