Of course, this isn’t the first time the Lakers traded for an All-Star big man to pair with their existing All-Star player as they brought in Dwight Howard to pair with Kobe Bryant during the 2012-13 NBA season.
As everyone is aware of at this point, that didn’t work out well with Howard and Bryant clashing, the Lakers underachieving, and Howard bolting for the Houston Rockets in 2013 NBA free agency. With Davis being a free agent after this season, the chance is there for the same outcome happening once again to the Lakers, but there seems to be little discussion about that possibility.
While the pressure on Davis is undoubtedly immense, there doesn’t seem to be the same feeling around the Lakers as there was seven years ago. One NBA executive even explained why Davis seems to be getting something of a pass compared to Howard, via Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:
“I think where [Davis] might be getting a pass, when Dwight came over, the situation was this was Kobe’s team,” the executive said. “Whereas Dwight was like, ‘I’m doing it my way because I went to the NBA Finals … I got [former Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy] fired.’ People are going to listen to me. He let it go to his head.”
That attitude is precisely what Howard is trying to dispel in his second go-round with the Lakers this season. As the executive continued, Davis is far more open to criticism than Howard was at that time:
“LeBron has the same expectations [as Bryant], but he’s not that type of leader. Anthony is not an alpha; Dwight thought he was an alpha,” the executive said. “Dwight thought he was right. You can’t tell him anything. Whereas Anthony is a lot more open to criticism from guys who have done it.”
Players such as James or Bryant will always have extremely high expectations for their teammates and not everyone can handle that. Players such as Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom were able to handle everything that came with playing next to Bryant and Davis sounds like someone who is open to everything that comes with playing with James.
While there are some similarities between the Davis and Howard situations, the players and team build are completely different.
But in the end, the pressure to bring a championship to Los Angeles is the same and now — coincidentally — the two have the chance to do it together.