The Los Angeles Lakers are asking Anthony Davis to stretch the floor more often, paving the way for him to be the NBA’s MVP.
Anthony Davis has been relatively quiet this season thus far while dealing with a minor calf injury. However, Davis had his first big game of the season on Friday against the San Antonio Spurs, dropping a vintage 34 points with 11 rebounds in a Los Angeles Lakers win.
Davis turns 28 in March, meaning that he is entering his athletic prime in the league and we may see him somehow take his game to another level. AD is already one of the five or so best players in the league and the thought of him expanding his game should terrify other teams.
Even in a cold start, though, we are already seeing where he is expanding his game: three-point shooting. Davis is averaging three attempts per game, is shooting 46.7% from beyond the arc and went 4-6 from beyond the arc on Sunday.
AD’s best games came in the games in which he shot the three-ball more often. He went 3-5 from deep in a 28-point contest against the Dallas Mavericks while being 0-4 in his other three games behind. He went nuclear against the Suns in the preseason, making six of seven threes and finishing with 35 points in 30 minutes.
This is not an accident, this is by design. Davis has acknowledged that he is really working on his three-point shot this season, stating that Frank Vogel wants him to average five three-point shots per game for the Lakers this season.
His career-high is 3.5 threes per game, which was last season.
This added dynamic to Anthony Davis’ game is what is going to take him to the promised land that is the league MVP. While the Luka Doncic hype is fun and Giannis Antetokounmpo is a monster, I just do not see how the voters can deny AD the award if he develops a consistent three-point shot.
Davis is not going to shoot 46.7% from beyond the arc all season. However, he has shown notable improvements and it is absolutely fair to expect an increase in three-point percentage this season. He shot 33% from beyond the arc last season and he can easily improve that to, say, 37.5% this season — almost 10% lower than he is currently shooting.
Let’s say he averages exactly five threes a game the rest of the season — that would put his per-game average at 4.6 threes per game. If he plays 65 of the 72 games this season, at 37.5%, he would make 112 threes this season.
We can safely assume that Anthony Davis will average 25 points and 10 rebounds per game this season, or at least come very close. Since it is his prime years, we will assume he reaches both thresholds. The list of players to average 25 points, 10 rebounds and have 110 made threes with a three-point percentage at 37.5% or higher is extremely low.
Karl-Anthony Towns did it last season, albeit he only played 35 games (he averaged 7.9 threes attempted per game). Kevin Love did it with Minnesota in 2013-14.
Anthony Davis brings something that neither of those players bring, though: elite defense. Love finished 11th in MVP voting partly because Minnesota was terrible and partly because he is a bad defensive player. He actually had the best defensive season of his career the season, posting a low 0.6 Defensive Box Plus-Minus.
KAT was not going to get votes for half a season on a bad team, although he still only posted a 0.8 DBPM. Anthony Davis, meanwhile, posted a DBPM of 2.6 last season and 2.3 the year prior. Davis ranked fourth in the league in that statistic last season.
Elite defense, insane offensive production and a brand-new dynamic to his game that puts him on a list that currently only contains two players? All while being on the best team in the league in the Los Angeles Lakers?
That sounds like an MVP season for Anthony Davis to me and it all hinges on his three-point shooting.