Anthony Davis was nearly automatic when he went to the free-throw line for the Lakers last season.
Despite averaging a career-high 8.5 free-throw attempts per game, Davis also managed to shoot a career-high 84.6% from the charity stripe in the regular season. In the postseason, he made 83.2% of his free-throw attempts while averaging the same amount of attempts per game. For his career, he’s an 80% free-throw shooter.
That’s why it’s been so confusing to see Davis struggle from the free-throw line as much as he has this season. Through 17 games, Davis is converting just 71.1% free-throw line, which is 4% worse than his all-time career-low.
On most nights this season, the Lakers have been able to live with his abnormal free-throw shooting, but on Wednesday night, his misses hurt them. Why? The Philadelphia 76ers beat the Lakers by one point on Wednesday and Davis went 5-10 from the charity stripe, including 2-4 in the fourth quarter. Davis wasn’t the sole reason the Lakers lost, but he wasn’t blameless either.
Davis is mindful of his free throw woes and he wants to be better, but he doesn’t think he’s going to do that by being extra hard on himself.
“I mean, I usually go up there and split them,” Davis said. “I missed two tonight, and then made the final two. At this point, it’s just all mental. It’s nothing that I’m really worried about. I’m going to continue to draw fouls, and get to the line, and have confidence in my work, that I’m going to make the free-throws.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to make free-throws, to make teams pay for fouling, and I haven’t been good at that this year, but it’s something that I’m not too concerned about.”
His head coach, Frank Vogel, isn’t overly-concerned about it from a team perspective either.
“Good free-throw shooters are going to have nights where they miss free-throws,” Vogel said. “Everybody concentrates on their work, they do their routine and they get ready for it. You can’t really worry about it. You’ve just got to focus on making them next game.”
Unfortunately, Davis won’t be available for the Lakers’ next game, as he’s been ruled out because of a quad injury. Hopefully some time away from the court will be what he needs to get back to his usual self on it because, generally speaking, he’s had a strange start to the season. Maybe some rest can help.