The Los Angeles Lakers enter the regular season with lofty expectations despite LeBron James being in his 21st season. His co-star Anthony Davis signed an extension through the 2027-28 season, cementing him as the building block of the franchise for years to come.
Through the offseason, fans were excited to see how Davis would come out the gate on Opening Night and if he would prove that he is capable of being the face of the franchise when James departs or retires. The Chicago native has had some offensive shortcomings with inconsistent performances, but his defense is consistent and is clearly in the upper echelon of the league.
In the season opener against the Denver Nuggets, Davis started out aggressive and was attacking two-time MVP Nikola Jokic early. He scored 17 points in the first half although went scoreless after halftime, drawing a lot of criticism nationally.
As is usually the case though, Davis bounced back in a big way on Thursday against the Phoenix Suns with 30 points and 12 rebounds to go along with three steals and three blocks in the Lakers’ first win of the season.
Davis experienced these offensive inconsistencies last season and fans may be feeling weary to begin the 2023-24 season. However, head coach Darvin Ham still has the utmost faith in his star despite lackluster offensive nights:
“I just think, again, seeing his care factor. The type of spirit he has day in and day out,” Ham said of what gives him confidence in Davis. “And knowing that he’s his own biggest critic. He takes a lot of pride in the way he performs. At the end of the day, whether he hears the outside noise or not, he knows we have all the faith in the world in him, and that’s not going to change. And so we’re just gonna keep encouraging him and pushing him to be great. And he’s gonna push themselves to be great.
“It’s just one of those things where people just, it’s the first game of the season, I know all eyes was on that, different things were said in the summer or whatever. None of that really matters, man. The kid is a beautiful kid. He’s a beautiful human being and highly, highly skilled and talented. One of the top players in our league. And we got to put the heads around him and love on him and make sure he understands how important he is to our group and encourage them to be aggressive and assertive.”
Through two games, Davis is averaging 23.5 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks on 47.1% from the field and 50% from 3. Clearly, with James’ minutes being watched by Ham and his staff, his co-star is going to have to step up when James is off the floor.
Ham has spoken highly about his star big man throughout the offseason and saw the work Davis put in to prepare for the new season. As long as the coaching staff provides Davis with confidence and believes in his capabilities, that’s the only opinion that matters.
James: Lakers don’t care about Davis criticism
Davis’ talent is top tier and his inconsistencies can frustrate fans, but James doesn’t care about the outside noise surrounding him and knows what his co-star is capable of.
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