Since Anthony Davis joined the Los Angeles Lakers, he’s transformed the franchise into a legitimate title contender. However, Davis‘ health issues cropped up again last season, resulting in the Lakers suffering an early playoff exit. As the 2020-21 campaign inches closer, the star big man is finally demonstrating why LeBron James can trust him to take the reins in Los Angeles.
Anthony Davis limped through his second campaign with the Lakers
Throughout Davis‘ career, the one concern about him has remained his health.
After being one of the guiding lights to push the Lakers to secure the 2020 NBA title, his injury issues arose again. Davis began to experience nagging leg issues early in the 2020-21season, leading him to suffer a calf injury related to his Achilles in February, missing two months.
The 28-year-old returned for the final two weeks of the regular season. Davis showed signs that he moved past the calf injury. He posted an impressive 42-point outing against the Phoenix Suns before the postseason, becoming the sixth player to notch at least 42 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and three blocks in a single game.
However, the injury bug cropped back into the picture as he suffered a strained groin in Game 4 of the first-round playoff series against the Suns. He missed Game 5 and attempted to play in Game 6 but reaggravated the injury only five minutes into the contest, sealing the franchise’s postseason fate.
These parameters guided Davis to a critical offseason, where his health is key to the Lakers’ success. Beyond that, he’s finally showing why LeBron James laid his trust in him.
Anthony Davis is finally showing LeBron James can trust him to take charge of the Los Angeles Lakers
Since Davis joined the Lakers, James has indicated the star big man’s importance to the franchise’s championship success.
His skillset and game-changing ability on both ends of the floor transform Los Angeles into a legitimate NBA title contender. After the Lakers’ first-round playoff exit, James underlined that notion by singling out Davis’s health as the No.1 offseason priority the franchise needs for the 2021-22 campaign.
“Obviously number one thing for us is getting AD healthy,” James said. “That’s number one. It doesn’t matter what changes we make. We got to get big fella healthy and needs back to where he was before the injury.”
Since then, Davis has taken the onus upon himself to solely focus on that aspect. He first rested to allow the groin injury to heal completely, then changed his trainer and subsequent workout regimen. As training camp fast approaches, head coach Frank Vogel recently voiced the star big man’s body looked “imposing.”
“He put a lot of work this offseason into his body,” Vogel said this week on the Spectrum SportsNet’s “Lakeshow” podcast, A lot of work. And we had a moment, maybe two weeks ago, where he had been training at home, and we had a conversation about ‘these are some of the concerns we have with our team, we think we’re good here, we think we’re good there,’ and then he comes in for a workout, and it was the first time we had kind of seen him for a while, and his body looked imposing.
“We all just looked at each other like ‘we’re gonna be really good this year.’ Just looking at that guy right there, we’re gonna be really good this year.”
It may only be training camp, but his recommitment to his physical health is what the Lakers need. As James has repeatedly pointed out, Davis is the key to the team’s NBA title hopes, and his efforts showcase he’s taking that responsibility seriously.
Lakers’ title hopes rest on Anthony Davis’ shoulders
The Lakers spent the offseason retooling the roster around its star talent by adding proven veterans, including star point guard Russell Westbrook.
These moves have plenty of media attention, creating concerns due to the overall age of the roster and fit together. Much of that doubt lies with Westbrook’s ability to play effectively alongside James.
The added shooting and versatile defenders will play a critical part, but it comes down to Davis. The star big man is the franchise focal point as the anchor on both ends of the floor. According to Stat Muse, Los Angeles holds a 69-29 record with him, including winning the 2020 NBA title.
Ultimately, if Davis can’t remain healthy, it erases the Lakers’ chances of competing for an NBA title. There is no other way around it. The 28-year-old holds Los Angeles’ fate in his hands.