Three-point shooting a work in progress for Lakers’ Anthony Davis

L.A. big man questionable for game vs. OKC with Achilles tendon injury
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LOS ANGELES -- In his team’s double-overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons last week, Los Angeles Lakers power forward Anthony Davis caught a pass in the corner from point guard Dennis Schröder during the second overtime in rhythm and hoisted up a 3-point shot with a smooth stroke.

Nothing but net.

“I’m just always trying to get my game better, trying to improve my game,” Davis said about that shot. “That’s one instance of it. A lot of teams give me space on my 3-point shots because they’re afraid of the drive. So, I have the confidence to knock those down.”

Those shots have not been the norm this season for Davis. A point of emphasis before the season started for the 27-year-old was to take and make more three pointers this year. Davis said he wanted to shoot at least five to six three-pointers a game this season.

However, Davis is taking an average of 2.6 three-point attempts a game this season, down from 3.5 attempts a game last year. And he’s only making 31 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, which would be his lowest percentage since the 2016-2017 season.

Several times this year, Davis has pumped-faked his way out of taking shots from beyond the arc, choosing instead to keep the ball moving or driving to the basket.

“I’m confident,” Davis said, when asked about shooting the three. “The team gets on me and the players get on me about shooting them, especially when I’m open. But I just try to make the right play, thinking about pump faking when a guy closes out, especially a big. I’m able to get around him and either get to the basket or if the defense collapses, I’m able to find shooters. But I do have to shoot the ones that I’m open on. So, I think it’s just me actually doing it.”

Davis, who missed Monday’s overtime win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, remains questionable for Wednesday’s rematch with OKC on Wednesday due to a lingering Achilles tendon injury.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said it’s a delicate balance between Davis hoisting up potentially bad shots from beyond the arc to stretching the defense because of his ability to make those shots and draw the other team’s big man away from the basket.

“We want him to shoot in rhythm,” Vogel said. “I present those numbers out there, just to make sure he stays aggressive in those situations and not passing some up. And there’s once or twice a game when the ball swings to him and he passes it up.

“But he’s knocking them down in rhythm when he gets some open ones. He made a big one late in the game the other day in overtime off a Dennis (Schröder) pass to the corner. We just want him to be aggressive. The number isn’t really that important to me. But we just want him to be aggressive in those situations in catching and shooting at the three-point line.”

Just like Davis, the Lakers have cooled a bit from the three-point line after a hot start during the first part of the season. The Lakers are shooting 42-of-135 (31.1 percent) during the team’s five-game winning streak from beyond the arc.

“Sometimes guys get a little heavy-legged at certain points of the season,” Vogel said, when asked about his team’s shooting woes and if there were any correlation to the lack of practice time allocated for getting up shots from playing during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think we’re there right now. We’ve just got to fight through that stuff.”