Sometimes, teams with multiple All-Star players can struggle to figure out a way to get them to coexist.
For example, there are plenty of pundits who are skeptical that James Harden and Russell Westbrook will be able to make things work with the Houston Rockets sharing just one basketball. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal — despite their historic success — ultimately went their separate ways as each wanted to be the alpha star on the team.
On this episode of the Lakers Nation Podcast, host Trevor Lane discusses Davis’ recent comments to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, plus reveals James’ request from Lakers management following their trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.
James reportedly informed the Lakers their offense needs to run through Davis for the 2019-20 NBA season. This act shows incredible self-awareness from the 34-year-old James as he understands the need for Davis — who is in his prime at 26 years old — to do the heavy lifting on both ends of the floor. Instead of a battle between two All-Star players for dominance, James has gone out of his way to cede control over to Davis. He even went so far as to attempt to give his No. 23 to Davis, but that move was postponed by Nike for the time being.
In a league where chemistry can be a major factor in a team’s overall success, James’ efforts to welcome Davis with open arms could go a long way.
Additionally, Davis told Haynes that he has set a personal goal of winning the 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, which must have been music to the ears of head coach Frank Vogel. At 6’10” with a ridiculous 7’6″ wingspan plus the lateral quickness to defend on the perimeter, Davis very well could become the league’s dominant force on defense if he puts his mind to it.
Furthermore, Davis asserted that he would hold teammates accountable for their own efforts on defense, including even James. Despite James’ status as a legend and one of the greatest to ever play the game, Davis has no intention of giving him a free pass.
On the surface, Davis is setting the tone early about what kind of defense the team will need to play if they want to win games, but digging deeper, statements like these also show that he’s stepping up into the leadership role that James has offered him.