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LeBron James, Anthony Davis love that Carmelo Anthony gives Lakers a fearless ‘sniper’

Carmelo Anthony continues to provide the Lakers with a big spark offensively, highlighted by another 3-point explosion on Friday that drew praise from LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

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Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

Through the opening six games of the season, Carmelo Anthony has been a perfect offensive complement to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. In need of spacing around the pairing, particularly when Russell Westbrook is also on the court, Anthony has been a consistent stretch forward option for a team with few of them due to injury.

Friday marked the second time this season that Anthony has exploded from beyond the arc, knocking down six 3-pointers in the Lakers 113-101 win over the Cavaliers. After the game, LeBron James talked about Anthony’s shooting ability and how it can open up the offense.

“He is a sniper, what we call in our league, guys that don’t need much airspace to get it off because of his quick trigger,” James said. “And it creates so much space for myself, Russ and AD to work our pick-and-roll magic when you have guys like Melo, and guys that can space the floor and keep guys honest on the perimeter.”

Albeit in just 24 possessions this season, Anthony ranks in the 98th percentile in spot-up possessions, shooting 56.5% from the field in such situations. Per Cleaning the Glass, he ranks in the 97ther percentile among forwards in 3-point percentage and in the 92nd percentile in effective field goal percentage.

Specific to James’ comments, Anthony has had 13 spot-up possessions come directly from passes by pick-and-roll ballhandlers. He ranks in the 94th percentile in those possessions while shooting 58.3% from the field. While all statistics at this point in the season come with the caveat of it being a small sample size, it’s an encouraging trend early in the year.

Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

What’s harder to be measured, though, is how quickly Anthony can get hot from beyond the arc, which he’s showcased multiple times this season. Davis spoke of how that energizes the team after Friday.

“When Melo gets going, man, it just opens up the floor for our team,” Davis said. “And he can get hot quick, as you guys can see... It’s just an energy thing. When he gets going, hits two in a row, we know he’s hot and we try to find it. And when he shoots, it’s such a quick release and we know it’s going in. Especially when he shoots it and his arms go straight down, he doesn’t hold his follow through, we know it’s going in, but it’s a momentum booster for us.

“Just like a dunk, or Bron shooting his 60-footers, Dwight getting a huge block, me getting a dunk, Russ getting a dunk, it’s just momentum plays.”

Since the start of the 2019-20 season, seven Lakers not named James have had at least six 3-pointers in a game. Only three of them have had multiple such games with Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope doing it three times each. That Anthony has nearly matched that total in his opening six games is another sign of how impactful he has been offensively this young season.

“He’s one of the best in the league with the way he’s transitioned his role and his game,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s a professional scorer throughout his career and he, to his credit, has really made a transition to be an elite catch-and-shoot guy that has good size and can shoot with a hand in his face, and 6-8 from three, a lot of huge buckets, (he was) a big part of the win.”

Anthony’s offensive output has been a big plus for the Lakers early in the season and could certainly continue to open things up for the Lakers. As more and more opposing teams begin to respect Anthony’s shooting, it will only continue to open up the Lakers offense.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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