The turnaround that the Los Angeles Lakers experienced last season was truly something to behold. The franchise basically remade itself on the fly following the trade deadline and the path was made even more difficult when LeBron James went down to injury. But the Lakers still went on a huge run and the catalyst was big man Anthony Davis.
Of course Davis had gone down to injury earlier in the year himself, but once he got back on the court with his new teammates, he was the superstar player and leader many have been calling for him to be. Davis was dominant on both ends of the court as the Lakers kickstarted a run that would take them to the Western Conference Finals.
Davis’ talent has never been in question, but that stretch of play late in the regular season was one of the best runs of his career. And in an appearance on The Athletic NBA Show, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss says Davis was arguably the best player in the league at that point:
“And then something just clicked with the team and Anthony Davis being healthy. There’s an argument to be made that he was the best player in the NBA when he was playing at that level.”
In 21 games after the All-Star break, Davis averaged 25.8 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.1 blocks while shooting 56.6% from the field. It was everything that fans know Davis is capable of and he did it night after night when the team needed it most. By the time LeBron returned from injury, the Lakers were already rolling and he was just able to come in and add to it.
The question for Davis moving forward is whether he can play at that level for the entire season. Of course the most important key to that will be his health as he simply has to stay on the court. But even when he is playing, he has to be more consistent as he has been prone to stretches where he just doesn’t look engaged.
But now armed with a new max contract and with championship expectations back around this Lakers team, Davis will need to play at that MVP level in order for the Lakers to make that run back to the NBA Finals.
Rob Pelinka says Anthony Davis is the ‘core’ of Lakers’ continuity
Continuity was the buzzword around the Lakers all offseason and the team stayed true to their strategy in bringing back most of the main contributors to last year’s team. The front office also extended a couple of players as well, chief among them being Davis.
And Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka says Davis was at the ‘core’ of that continuity plan, calling him a pillar of the franchise and someone the team could build around for years to come as he further embraces his role as a leader on this team.
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