Lakers Notes: Davis, LeBron, Ham, Hachimura

The Lakers have experienced some extreme highs and lows already this season, but they’ve been able to rely on Anthony Davis through everything, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The talented big man has played in 36 of the team’s 38 games, avoiding the injury woes that have haunted him through most of his career. He’s making a case for Defensive Player of the Year honors while taking a larger role in L.A.’s offense, averaging 25.7 points and 3.4 assists per night.

“You could tell his body’s feeling good,” coach Darvin Ham said. He’s in a good space. His energy is great. He’s just doing what he needs to do. He’s not trying to force anything. It’s coming. That’s why it’s so efficient. He’s just playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played, getting good hits on screens. … He’s in a really good mental space, spiritual space. And physically, he’s at a really high level right now.” 

Buha notes that the biggest change in Davis’ game has been the reemergence of his mid-range jumper, which he used so effectively when the Lakers won the title in 2019/20. Davis is shooting 44.4% on mid-range attempts since December 9, adding a much-needed weapon for a team with limited outside shooting.

“I just wasn’t shooting it enough,” Davis said. “A lot of my shots were coming in the paint — post-ups and duck-ins and seals and things like that. Now, the way that teams are playing me, doubling on the catch and on the dribble, I’ve been just getting back to the mid-range. It’s an easier shot instead of fighting the double teams to get a shot up. So that’s all it is. Continuing to trust it and shoot it.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • With about four weeks left until the trade deadline, there’s still time to fix the deficiencies from a frustrating first half of the season, observes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Sources tell McMenamin that LeBron James‘ “patience has been tested” by the team’s performance, but he has decided to lead by example rather than demand changes. James talks to the coaches and front office when they solicit his opinion, but his focus is primarily on the court, according to McMenamin.
  • In the same story, McMenamin casts doubt on rumors that Ham’s job might be in jeopardy. A front office source tells the ESPN writer that Ham was hired for his “character, toughness and presence,” and management has confidence that he can handle the challenges that come with such a high-pressure job.
  • Rui Hachimura is making progress toward returning from his strained left calf, per Khobi Price of The Orange County Register. Hachimura missed his fourth straight game Tuesday night, but Ham indicated there’s a chance he could be back within the next week.
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