2018-19 NBA Season Review
The 2018-19 NBA season for Anthony Davis with the New Orleans Pelicans was easily one of the most surreal and awkward individual years for any player in recent memory.
Davis and Klutch Sports agent Rich Paul informed the Pelicans in late January he would not sign a contract extension and requested a trade. When no agreement was reached before the Feb. trade deadline with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Pelicans limited Davis’ minutes for the rest of the season and outright did not play him in some games.
Overall, Davis’ numbers were still there, averaging 25.9 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists (career-high), 2.4 blocks, and 1.6 steals (career-high) in 33.0 minutes. However, he played in just 56 games because of the ongoing Pelicans situation, including just 11 following the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend where he averaged just 21.1 minutes per game.
The entire ordeal did not sit well with basketball fans and helped to submarine the seasons of both the Pelicans and Lakers, who were on edge waiting to see whether or not a trade would come down for the 26-year-old superstar.
Prior to that situation, Davis looked every bit like a top-five player. In 45 games prior to the break, Davis averaged 28.1 points, 12.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 2.5 blocks with a number of stat lines that have to be seen to be believed.
On Opening Night against the Houston Rockets, Davis posted a 32-16-8-3-3 line. He then dropped a 25-20 game against the eventual NBA champion, Toronto Raptors. There was also a 44-18 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder as well as a 48-17 game against the Dallas Mavericks.
2019-20 NBA Season Outlook
Simply put, the pressure is on for Davis and there will be a level of scrutiny unlike anything he has ever faced to this point in his career. The Lakers have championship aspirations and he is at the forefront of that push. Teaming up with LeBron James on the Lakers, Davis will have to show he was worth trading nearly the entire young core.
Thankfully, Davis has the talent to do just that.
James wants Davis to be the centerpiece of the team’s offense and the 26-year-old himself has spoken about shooting for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. His ability to do both will be paramount to the success of the Lakers as they look to return to the 2020 NBA Finals.
Perhaps most important will be Davis’ dedication to defense heading into Year 1 in Los Angeles. Many of the team’s biggest questions focus on that end of the floor and Davis will need to be that backline communicator and help to cover up the mistakes of their perimeter players who may not be the best suited at containing many of the league’s best guards. James has not been pushed on that end in numerous seasons so if Davis can get him to tighten up, the Lakers will fall in line and they will be far better for it.
Offensively, there is nothing Davis cannot do and head coach Frank Vogel would be wise to push that to the limit. Davis is capable of operating from anywhere on the floor and the fact that his assist numbers have risen the last couple of seasons is proof of his improved playmaking. Along with getting any shot in the paint, he is extending his three-point range, which was an offseason focus.
Davis and James will garner a ton of attention, but it will be difficult for any team to key in on both at the same time, so figuring out the right way to exploit this will be important.
Much has been made of Davis’ injury history, but that has become a bit overblown recently. Last season’s missed games were mostly due to the situation with the Pelicans and he played in 75 games each of the two prior seasons. After a season in which Davis was held out for so long, he should be well rested and ready to go full throttle.
Plain and simple, the team’s short- and long-term success hinges on Davis. His talent is unquestionable and he got what he wanted by being traded to the Lakers, so the spotlight will be bigger on him than anyone else.
There are some questions about the team’s chemistry and fit, but fans expect Davis’ (and James’) talent to make up for that and no excuses will be taken. It will be on Davis to drive this defense and it will be on Davis to lead the offense.
All-NBA First Team, All-NBA Defensive First Team, NBA Defensive Player of the Year, NBA Most Valuable Player, and NBA championship. All of these are in play for Davis in Los Angeles and if a couple of these accolades do not come to fruition, there will be some unhappy fans in Lakers Nation.