Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has raised eyebrows with his surprising vision for the 2023-24 season. Ham, who took over the coaching reins in 2022, has openly stated his desire for superstar big man Anthony Davis to attempt six three-pointers per game.
“I want him, if he can — I know he won’t do it, but maybe he’ll shock me — but I’ve requested to see six 3-point attempts a game. Three per half, at least. I wouldn’t put that on him if I didn’t think he was capable.”
Maybe the Lakers simply want to go ham (pun intended) from deep? They hoisted 55—and made 20—in their preseason game with the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.
While the notion of a big man shooting from beyond the arc isn’t entirely alien in today’s NBA, Ham’s thoughts on such a plan raises several questions, especially considering Davis’s less-than-impressive track record from long range.
Over the past three seasons, Davis has struggled from beyond the arc, shooting a dismal 23.8%. This glaring statistic makes Ham’s demand for six three-point attempts per game seem all the more perplexing. What’s even more baffling is the fact that Davis is coming off a remarkable year where he excelled in the traditional big man role. AD averaged 25.9 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game while shooting a career-best 56.3% from the field for his 2022-23 season, and it was one of his most all-around campaigns in a long while. His dominance in the paint played a pivotal role in the Lakers’ performance, leaving many to wonder why Ham would even have a thought of altering a winning formula.
Also adding to why it’s a head-scratcher is the Lakers’ roster composition. Los Angeles boasts a plethora of reliable shooters, including D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, and second-year swingman Max Christie, who they have high hopes for. Additionally, the Lakers made strategic off-season signings to bring in outside threats, like Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Christian Wood, and Cam Reddish. With such an array of capable perimeter players, pulling Davis away from the paint seems counterintuitive, to say the least.
For context, here are some notable players who averaged at least 5.5 threes per game last season:
- Trae Young (6.3)
- Darius Garland (6.0)
- Dillon Brooks (6.0), Bojan Bogdanovic (6.0)
- Kristaps Porzingis (5.5)
The bar usually includes guards and wings, and the rare big man like Porzingis, who can shoot, didn’t even reach the plateau that Ham is targeting.
The Lakers’ struggles from three
It goes on: the Lakers’ struggle with three-point shooting in the previous season further amplifies the confusing approach. Ranked 24th in the league with a 34.6% shooting average from beyond the arc, it’s evident that the team faced challenges in this department. However, it’s questionable whether forcing Davis to take more threes is the solution, especially when, as mentioned, other reliable shooters are available to step up to the plate.
One can’t help but wonder about the potential consequences of this unusual strategy. Will Davis’s confidence suffer if he continues to miss shots from long range? Could the Lakers risk disrupting their team chemistry by altering their offensive dynamics so drastically? These are valid concerns that Ham will need to address as the season progresses.
There’s a fine line between pushing boundaries and making decisions that defy logic. Ham’s insistence on turning Anthony Davis into a three-point shooter seems to be treading that line. Regardless, eyeballs will be on the Lakers to see if this peculiar tactic comes to fruition, and maybe pay off or massively backfire. It’ll be a sight to see either way.