After finishing second-to-last in 3-point percentage for the second consecutive season last season, the Los Angeles Lakers finally put an emphasis on shooting in free agency with signings like Danny Green, Quinn Cook and Troy Daniels. While Green and Cook have been in winning situations in recent years, Daniels has bounced around the league, with his most recent stop being with the Phoenix Suns, a team that has won 50 games over the last two seasons.
This upcoming season, Daniels will have the opportunity to compete for a championship alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, something he told Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype was too go to pass up:
How was your free-agency experience and why did you ultimately sign with the Lakers?
Troy Daniels: It was a hectic time, for sure. Kawhi Leonard was kind of holding up free agency because a lot of teams wanted to hold onto their salary-cap room to give it all to him because they thought they had a real shot at getting him. It kind of sucked for me. Around that time, I knew my market wasn’t that big, but I figured I could probably make $3 million or $4 million for the upcoming season. The Lakers, Thunder, Warriors and a couple other teams were interested – a lot of teams obviously need elite shooters. I knew those teams were interested.
The Lakers were the first to come with an offer. It was a vet minimum deal, but it was almost a no-brainer. They’re trying to build a championship team for this season and opportunities like that don’t come along very often. I felt like it was the best decision for my career. You can make a big name for yourself by playing well on the big stages, as I did in my rookie year [with the Houston Rockets]. If I get another opportunity like that, I just have to take advantage of it. Coming in, I don’t really know the plan [as far as playing time]. Everybody feels like they know who’s going to play and who isn’t going to play, but at the end of the day, you have to go out there and earn it. I’ve built my career on that. It doesn’t really matter how much or when I’m going to play; whatever opportunity I get, I’m going to be ready.
While Daniels doesn’t know what role he’ll play on a roster filled to the brim with capable veteran guards, he told Kennedy that he thinks he can be difference-maker with his 3-point shooting:
The Lakers ranked 29th in three-point shooting last year and it’s clear they badly wanted to add shooters this summer, signing you, Danny Green, Quinn Cook and Avery Bradley. It seems like this is a great situation for you.
TD: To be honest, I think it’s a perfect fit. LeBron James and Anthony Davis command a lot of attention and a ton of double-teams. When those guys have the ball, defenders watch the ball. You want to have shooters surrounding LeBron and AD, whether it’s me or Danny Green or the other guys. If I’m open, I feel like nine times out of 10, it’s going to go in. The ones that I miss are the harder, contested shots. But if I’m wide open – and I probably will get a lot of wide-open shots – it’s probably going to go in. Having LeBron and AD definitely helps me. And playing with shooters will help LeBron and AD and the other players because the [improved spacing] lets them get through the lane and do what they do best.
Daniels, a career 40 percent 3-point shooter, made just 36.6 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-pointers last season, but he was able to convert 47.9 percent of his wide open 3-point attempts, according to NBA.com. Daniels also shot an impressive 43.9 percent on pull up 3-pointers, the second-most frequent shot type he took last season.
Those two things will not only make him a great fit alongside James and Davis, but they’ll also make him a threat in transition. If he can carry deliver the same results in a bigger role with the Lakers next season, the team’s ceiling offensively will be raised considerably and his $1.6 million contract will look like a bargain sooner rather than later.