When you think about the best shooters on the Lakers, who’s the first name that comes to mind? Is it Danny Green? Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? Quinn Cook? Jared Dudley? LeBron James?
Well, with all due respect to those guys, the answer is none of them, according to Lakers shooting coach/bench sniping legend Mike Penberthy, who said during an appearance on “The Lake Lake Show” podcast that Anthony Davis actually has the best shooting mechanics on the team.
Let him explain:
“The best shooter mechanically, we just (released) him, Troy Daniels, he was the best so far. But the guy that I’ve spent the most time with that I think at this point — and having continued to work with him during this break — is Anthony Davis, and you can see that really in his free-throw percentage. Most of you’re great shooters that have ever lived have really high free-throw percentages.
“So I usually try to evaluate people based on what their shooting percentages are, not just in games, because sometimes the game doesn’t dictate exactly how good of a shooter you are. Maybe you take a shot at the end of the shot clock, or maybe every shot you’re taking is heavily contested by the defense.”
Those last factors have likely brought down Davis’ percentages a bit this year, in addition to how often he has to create his own shot, but he’s still been really efficient. He is third on the Lakers in true-shooting percentage (61.4%) behind only Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, who exist on a nearly exclusive diet of lobs and easy dunks. Davis has also maintained his efficiency despite having the second-highest usage rate on the team, using 28.7% of the Lakers’ possessions while he’s on the floor (behind only LeBron, who uses 30.8%).
Still, Davis is only shooting a slightly below average, but not awful, 33.5% on threes, good for 9th on the Lakers among players to take more than six attempts. That’s not the kind of success rate that usually leads to rave reviews about shooting ability, but Penberthy also wanted to point out that it’s not the only way to measure shooting:
“There are some factors that come into play when evaluating shooters, but at the free-throw line, there is nobody guarding you. So if you can stand there and make free throws, that’s usually a pretty good sign of where you’re at from a shooter perspective. And I think Anthony is our leading free-throw shooter (Editor’s Note: He is, and is shooting 84.5%). And he’s the one I’ve spent the most time with and made the most adjustments with over the last year, and credit to him for the amount of work he’s put in to really help his jump shot.”
To Penberthy and Davis’ credit, that work does appear to be paying off. His 33.5% is the second-best percentage he’s shot from distance in his whole career, and he’s doing it on what are by far his most attempts per game ever (3.5). His free-throw percentage is also the best of his career. Davis has clearly made improvements and has stayed committed to his shot, as you can see in his form on his threes around the 1:30-ish minute mark of the below video:
Penberthy (right at the beginning of the podcast) also went into detail on how he built his relationship with Davis and earned his trust, and how much work the whole team is putting in to get better. Combined with the stories he told from his own career, the whole episode is worth a listen.
And if Davis can continue to translate the work he’s putting in into success from distance, then not only will he get closer and closer to being truly unguardable, but the Lakers will be in even better shape as they chase their 17th title in Orlando. If Davis has a hot month that helps the Lakers dominate, he and Penberthy both deserve a ton of credit.