While the Los Angeles Lakers have enjoyed the successes of signing LeBron James and trading for Anthony Davis, on-court results lacked last season and a negative perception has hovered over them.
James, Davis, and head coach Frank Vogel have each dispelled that narrative and raved about their experiences with the Lakers. Entering Friday, Los Angeles has the best record in the Western Conference at 9-2 and trail only the Boston Celtics (9-1) for the top seed in the NBA.
The pairing of Davis and James has played out well — perhaps better than most anticipated this early into the 2019-20 NBA season. Beyond their cohesiveness on offense, the duo has spearheaded a strong defensive effort.
It’s an area Davis said the Lakers keyed in on since the outset of 2019 NBA training camp and he also reiterated being pleased with the team, via Shams Charania of Stadium:
“Expectations have been the reality. I’m very happy where I am, the team is looking great. We’re a team who lays our hat on defense. Coming in, that’s what we said from Day 1 in camp, we want to be a team that executes defensively; we’re the No. 1 team in defense right now in the league. We want to make sure we continue that all year. Offense is still a little struggle. We’re not scoring as much as we can but we’re finding a way to get it done. That’s going to take time, the more we get to learn each other and play with each other. Defense has kind of been our focal point and we’ve been able to execute that plan.”
The Lakers are allowing 100.9 points per game (third-best in the NBA) and their 99.5 defensive rating and 7.4 blocks per game are both top overall. Los Angeles additionally is holding opponents to 42.2 percent shooting, good for the fourth-best mark. Offensively, they have begun to move the ball well and lead the NBA in field goal percentage.
As for Davis and his happiness with the Lakers, there was an inherent risk with completing the trade because he is due to become a free agent after the season. Davis has thus far declined to verbally commit to the team beyond that and comments about potentially returning to Chicago to play for his hometown Bulls has further fueled speculation.
However, there’s also a sentiment the Lakers simply must avoid getting in their own way in order to re-sign the six-time All-Star.