After a dominant defensive postseason, Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis is looking to build upon that success heading into the 2023-24 season.
The struggle to stay on the floor was prevalent through the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, only playing 36 and 40 games, respectively. Davis was able to stay healthy through the playoff push last season though and kept the team afloat while his co-star LeBron James missed time with a right foot injury.
In 56 games, the big man averaged 25.9 points, 12.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2 blocks on 56.3% shooting from the field. While there were some offensive inconsistencies, Davis’ defense remained consistent and went up a notch in the playoffs, particularly in the first round versus the Memphis Grizzlies.
There are high expectations for the one-time champion to play at an MVP level to propel L.A. to its 18th championship. The tail-end of last season and playoff performance earned him the No. 10 spot in ESPN’s annual player rankings going into this season:
“Why he rose 10 spots: After two injury-riddled seasons following the 2020 title in the Orlando bubble, Davis missed 20 straight games from mid-December to late January last season, only to come back as a man on a mission to lead L.A. from a play-in berth to the Western Conference finals.
One huge question for 2023-24: This one is pretty simple. Can Davis stay healthy? If he can reach the 65-game threshold the league has implemented to be eligible for regular-season awards, not only should Davis be in the conversation for both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, but the Lakers should be hosting a playoff round or two. But as always, the question is whether or not his body will betray him.
Davis’ path to the No. 1 ranking: Look up the game tape of Davis’ 55-point, 17-rebound show he put on the Washington Wizards last year. Or the 44-point, 10-rebound, 3-block masterpiece he put on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in a road win for L.A. Or how about the 30-point, 23-rebound playoff classic he had against the Golden State Warriors? When Davis is right, it’s hard to find a more impactful two-way player.
When the Lakers won a championship in the 2019-20 season, Davis showed how dominant of a two-way player he is and the hope is for him to return to form this upcoming season.
The two main stipulations against the former Kentucky Wildcat are his health and offensive shortcomings. Davis being top-10 is not an outlandish idea, but the 2023-24 season needs to serve as a reminder to those who question this ranking.
Austin Reaves ranked No. 66 in NBARank list
Davis was not the only Laker on this list and was accompanied by fellow teammates. Guard Austin Reaves made his first appearance on this player ranking at No. 66 while James was just ahead of him at No. 9.
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