When Anthony Davis was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2019 NBA offseason, many critics wondered if he would still be the same player he was on the New Orleans Pelicans.
The reason for this narrative was the added pressure that came with being a Laker, and how Davis had never felt that pressure to win and be great before.
Safe to say, through 53 games of his first season with Los Angeles, Davis has undoubtedly lived up to the hype. He shed the injury-prone label and has played in 46 of the team’s 53 games, averaging a team-high 26.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 2.4 blocks. Through it all, the Lakers have the best record in the Western Conference at 41-12, a full four games ahead of the No. 2 Denver Nuggets.
Davis spoke about the pressure of being a Laker and wanting to play in the bright lights of Los Angeles, according to Davis via an interview with Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“I think so. I mean… not just being on the Lakers but being in a situation where I can win, it kind of solidified the type of player that I am. A lot of people say they know who I was, they saw me in New Orleans, but we didn’t have that many TV games. So people were like, ‘I know who he is but is he really a good player? We don’t really know how he performs under pressure.’ And so being in this situation, it kind of helps my case like, ‘He’s doing the same thing he did in New Orleans, he’s on a winning team.’ It helps my case more. And that’s something I wanted, I wanted to be under the pressure to see for myself if I can handle being under the lights at Staples and getting every team’s best shot, getting criticized… like can I handle that? Me, personally, I think I’ve been doing a good job if it.”
Davis will likely hear criticisms of this nature until the 2020 NBA playoffs because there’s almost nothing else to criticize him for. He’s been an excellent player and leader for this Lakers team and all that’s left is to do it from April to June.
It seems as though Davis has really taken a liking to being a Laker and being successful despite the pressure. Perhaps it’s something he’ll consider as he enters 2020 NBA free agency.