When the Los Angeles Lakers traded Danny Green for Dennis Schroder, the team was suddenly devoid of a credible perimeter wing defender who could knock down 3-pointers.
Vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka was quick to fill that void by signing Wesley Matthews to a one-year, $3.6 million contract. Matthews was coming off a strong 2019-20 season with the Milwaukee Bucks where he shot 36.4% from distance on 4.4 attempts per game.
Matthews was a welcomed addition to Los Angeles but he struggled out of the gate in the team’s first four games as he was 0-of-8 from beyond the arc despite getting open looks. However, the veteran finally broke out in the team’s win against the San Antonio Spurs as he drained all six of his attempts from downtown.
Matthews joined Nick Van Exel (6-for-6; Nov. 16, 1997) and Kobe Bryant (7-for-7; Jan 6, 2006) as the only players in Lakers franchise history to make at least six 3-pointers without a miss.
“We don’t worry about Wes. We know what he’s done throughout his career. He’s a knockdown shooter and great defender,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said after the win. “Just excited he’s in a Lakers uniform and what kind of lift he’s going to give us throughout the year.
“Struggled a little bit as we’re playing a lot of guys and trying to get guys in rhythm the first few games. The ball movement was really good, so he got a couple clean looks early. Then he made a couple of shot-fakes stepbacks, which is something he’s capable of. Red-hot tonight.”
Dennis Schroder added that he and other players were encouraging Matthews to keep shooting during his slump. “We can’t control if the ball goes in the basket,” Schroder said.
“We told him to keep shooting it. That’s what’s so great about this group. Everybody tries to build each other up. Even before the game I told him, ‘Just let ’em go and shoot ’em.’ I mean, 6-of-6, perfect night. Great defense. That’s what he’s going to bring to the table every night. Everybody in this locker room is excited for him.”
Matthews’ ability to knock down 3-pointers off the move and spotting up dramatically changes the offensive geometry for the Lakers as it gives the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis more room to operate in half-court settings.
His showing against San Antonio was a glimpse at what Los Angeles can look like with a spaced-out floor, and for Matthews it was a confidence booster that he should hopefully be able to build upon going forward.
Anthony Davis previously expressed confidence that his new teammates would eventually find their way, and they have begun to look more and more comfortable each game they play.
Lakers offense set to be more dynamic than last season
With new additions like Matthews now on the roster, the Lakers have the potential to be a much more potent offensive team.
So far, Schroder and Gasol have added new wrinkles to Vogel’s offensive schemes, while Montrezl Harrell’s energy around the basket has helped keep the team afloat when James sits. Defensively there are still questions, but the early returns on offense have made up for it so far.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!