When the New Orleans Hornets selected Anthony Davis with the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, he had to take on a leadership role rather quickly. As is the case with most teams picking early in the draft, the Hornets (now the Pelicans) didn’t have much talent, let alone veteran presence.
The team struggled, making the playoffs only twice during Davis’ tenure, falling to the Golden State Warriors during both runs. Davis, drafted out of the University of Kentucky, was used to having an established culture under Hall of Fame head coach John Calipari.
Davis, as it turned out, found difficulty in dealing with losses, but is now beginning to realize the bigger picture. Now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers with LeBron James at his side, he better understands the complexity of the NBA format and has taken a more temperate approach to loses, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
“You know, I used to be so upset and so, like, down, when we lose a game,” Davis says. “And he’d be like, ‘I done lost in-season series to several teams. But when the playoffs comes, it’s different.’ … For a guy who’s done it year after year after year after year, eight times in a row [in the NBA Finals] … if he’s not worrying, then I’m like, ‘All right, we’re fine.’
“But once he starts getting a little upset, it’s like, ‘All right, we know it’s something that we need to fix.'”
James has been around the block in the NBA and had his share of trouble during regular seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. A year before James’ departure to L.A., the Cavaliers finished fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Many around the league thought it to be the end for Cleveland, but James silenced critics, winning the conference crown for the eighth consecutive time. It was a stark turnaround for James, who often underachieved in the playoffs during his first run with the Cavaliers.
James brings a calm approach to the Lakers’ locker room and Davis is now feeding off of that energy with the franchise set to make its first postseason appearance since 2013.
Frank Vogel using seeding games to prepare for playoffs
Following a four-month layoff since their last meaningful basketball game, the Lakers are back on the court with a slightly different look after the losses of Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo. Head coach Frank Vogel plans to use the upcoming seeding games to sharpen the entire roster heading into the playoffs.
“It’s difficult to establish the habits that lead to winning basketball, our discipline in doing things the right way over and over again, to the point where they become a habit,” Vogel said.
“We’re going to need these eight seeding games to really try to be a finished product going into the playoffs, and we’re probably still not going to be a finished product going into the playoffs. We’ll be a work in progress. Every team is going through the same thing we are. I’m happy to be where we’re at with our guys.”
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