Coming off his first NBA Championship, Anthony Davis looked poised to carry the Los Angeles Lakers through the 2020-21 season. But unfortunately, that was not the case as injuries derailed his year.
With the Lakers facing a 71-day turnaround from the end of the 2020 NBA Finals to the new season, media and fans alike believed Davis would pick up the slack while LeBron James paced himself. However, Davis got off to a slow start by his standards as it seemed like he was a bit out of shape and still trying to get into the right mindset after the team’s elongated stay in the Orlando Bubble.
Despite that, Davis eventually picked things up at the top of the 2021 calendar as he began to resemble his playoff self, dominating the defensive end and carrying the offense whenever James sat. Things started to turn, though, when Davis began to feel nicked up as he dealt with several nagging injuries to his adductor, ankle and quads. It only got worse from there as Davis suffered an Achilles injury that kept him out of the lineup for a couple of games.
Davis eventually returned, but the Lakers and the fans held their collective breaths when he went down with a calf injury in a game against the Denver Nuggets. The calf injury sidelined Davis for over two months until he was able to return about a month before the playoffs began. It understandably took some time for him to get back into the swing of things, but got back to his elite form in their first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns.
Los Angeles was able to take a 2-1 lead over Phoenix thanks to Davis scoring 34 points in both Games 2 and 3. But the star once again got hurt as he injured his knee in Game 3. Davis was able to play through the knee injury in Game 4 but disaster struck when he hurt his groin towards the end of the second quarter and did not return. Davis missed Game 5 and tried to play in Game 6, but was again immediately pulled as it was clear he could not go.
Davis would end up playing 36 regular-season games, averaging 21.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.6 blocks.
The largest reason why the Lakers were favored against the Suns was that Davis presented a mismatch for their frontcourt. Prior to their playoff matchup, Davis led L.A. to a 123-110 win over Phoenix. The 28-year-old recorded a season-high 42 points and 12 rebounds, carrying the Purple and Gold, who were without James.
With the groin injury now behind him, Davis should be able to bounce back and remind the league why he is considered a top-five player when healthy. The Lakers will be retooling the roster in an effort to win another title, but Davis will remain one of the team’s pillars.
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