How an NBA player fares at the free-throw line is sometimes considered an indicator of said player’s form. Although it does not prove the formula’s validity in any way, it did appear to work in the case of Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis last season.
Davis suffered from multiple injuries in the previous campaign, most notably damaging his calf and Achilles. But even before health issues began disrupting the All-Star forward’s season, the 28-year-old had looked far from his dominant self that led the Lakers to the franchise’s 17th NBA championship in the Orlando bubble.
The dip in form coincided with Davis ending the season shooting just 73.8% from the charity stripe, the lowest percentage of his career. He also attempted just 5.9 free throws per game, sinking 4.4 of them — registering worse numbers only in his rookie season.
Although Davis continues shooting poorly from the free-throw line (65.5%) in the lead-up to the Oct. 19 season tip-off, he has notably been sent to the charity stripe more often. The forward attempted 29 free throws in the four games he has played so far, converting 19 of them.
When asked about Davis’ free throw shooting in the preseason, head coach Frank Vogel said the sample size is too small to draw any definite conclusions. However, Vogel added he will pay attention to the metric as he thinks it can signal whether the All-Star is returning to top form.
“I just think it’s last year was more of an anomaly and this year he’s returned to playing his style of basketball,” the coach said. “He can get to the line in so many different ways.
“[W]e’ll have to see how it progresses, but the more aggressive he is attacking the basket off the bounce, running the floor and sealing as the first big, crashing in the boards, rolling hard to the basket, all those things create free throw opportunities and that’s when he’s at his best.”
Vogel thinks the forward’s performance will play a particularly significant role in the Lakers’ success early in the season. The coach expects Davis and his partner in crime, LeBron James, to ‘carry the load’ for L.A. before the team finds its identity in the aftermath of the offseason roster overhaul.
Davis explains difference in his defensive game in big and small-ball lineups
Davis is widely expected to play at the five regularly in the upcoming season. That puts a lot of pressure on the forward’s shoulders as, he explained, his defensive role varies significantly depending on what position he is assigned.
“I think last year, a little bit I was kind of anchoring the defense but I was playing the four, so I’m usually in actions guarding the perimeter,” Davis said.
“Now at the five guarding the bigs, I get to see everything on the floor and able to anchor the defense and talk to the guys.
Davis added he has been involved in many conversations with his frontcourt partners, trying to optimize the Lakers’ defense in and around the paint.
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