For years, I’ve wondered what it would be like if Anthony Davis just focused on the shots that would make him most efficient. How good could he be if he ditched those mid-post isolation fadeaways to instead make a living only in and around the paint? What if he used his giant frame and incredible athleticism to stuff entire defensive units into the rim?
Well, it turns out I’m a moron. Not that anyone reading is surprised, but yeah. I’m a complete doofus.
Davis has been tremendously efficient to start this season. He’s basically eliminated the three-pointer from his repertoire and is doing whatever he can to take as many shots as close to the basket as possible. In terms of raw efficiency, this is technically all I’d hoped for.
Problem is, based on how little imprint he’s making late in games, it seems this is all opposing defenses have wanted, too.
It doesn’t matter how great that single thing is in sports if you don’t have a counter. A pitcher can throw 106 miles per hour but if they don’t have something to change things up, eventually, hitters will figure it out. A boxer can knock over houses with their punches but if all they do is swing for that knockout, eventually, they’ll have to eat one of those punches.
Yes, Davis is insanely proficient in the paint but, if a team can sell out to make sure he doesn’t touch the ball there and he won’t shoot anywhere else, does that just mean he won’t shoot? These last few games that’s basically been the case, and the Lakers offense has sputtered as a result.
Coming off last season’s dreadful shooting effort, Davis could’ve either attacked the summer and worked to become a greater threat from the outside or tweak his general approach to not waste possessions with shots he and everyone knows he struggles with. Unfortunately, he chose the latter, and given how little other shooting the Lakers have, it’s really hurt what they’re capable of on that side of the ball.
It is what it is with Davis’ shooting. In all likelihood he’ll never recreate the incredible shooting we saw from him in the bubble, but can he get to league average? Can he get decent enough from the perimeter that the defense has to care that he’s there? Given how little shooting the Lakers have across the roster, they desperately need him to. And while this will inevitably make him less efficient than he’s been to start this season, him becoming more dynamic might make the Lakers a better team overall.
And hey, if I’m wrong on this and the Lakers surround him with enough shooting to continue with this approach, you all can once again remind me that I’m an idiot. It’s a win-win, really.
This week in the “Lakers Lounge,” I spoke to Harrison Faigen about this and the buzz around the league of Davis’ potential availability in trades.
You can listen to all that and more on our latest episode in the player embedded below, and to make sure you don’t miss a single one moving forward, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude and you can follow Honi at @HoniAhm. And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.