Entering Tuesday night, fans and media members will cite a number of reasons why the Los Angeles Lakers sit at a pedestrian 12-12. Some will blame Russell Westbrook’s inability to mesh with his new team. Others will critique Frank Vogel’s coaching decisions or a concerning amount of injuries surrounding the team since training camp. However, Charles Barkley believes LA’s struggles can be firmly placed upon the shoulders of Anthony Davis.
Anthony Davis has been good but not great
AD’s first season in Hollywood ended with a historic postseason run and subsequent title in the bubble. His second, meanwhile, was an injury-shortened disaster that saw career lows in several areas. Davis’ third season in LA, as it turns out, is somewhere in between.
The eight-time All-Star has averaged 24.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks through 23 games. All of those averages are higher than his disappointing output from 2020-21. In addition, Davis has managed to avoid injuries, missing just one game due to illness.
That being said, the Brow hasn’t had many “wow” moments. The 6-foot-10 big man has registered just four games of 30 or more points since November 1. One huge issue comes from his 3-point shooting, as AD is hitting a dismal 18.8% of his attempts from long range.
The four-time All-Defense selection has also struggled to stop opposing teams. Davis has registered a positive plus-minus in just eight of his 23 games, the highest of which was a +11 in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Yet he’s accrued six games with a -11 or worse, including a -22 in just 28 minutes against the Chicago Bulls.
Charles Barkley points to Davis as the root of the Lakers’ issues
With Westbrook drawing much of the negative attention, Davis has largely been overlooked during LA’s losses. But Barkley wants to make sure AD is held accountable.
On TNT’s Inside the NBA, Sir Charles began the pregame show with an impassioned rant on Davis, demanding more from the young star.
“Listen, Anthony Davis, you gotta play better,” Barkley said. “Like I said on the first night [of the season]. If the Lakers are going to be any good, it was all going to be on you. It has nothing to do with Russell, nothing to do with LeBron, and the rest of the old a** geezers they put together out there.”
In between criticisms of Davis, Barkley also defended Vogel. The former MVP called LA’s bench boss “a terrific coach” and blasted those who want him gone. But he finished his tirade by once again calling out AD.
“In my opinion, I blame Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis, you know I like you as a person. But you ain’t doing what you’re supposed to do. You’re 27 years old, you’re supposed to be in your prime. You’re supposed to be one of the five best players in the world up there with Giannis [Antetokounmpo], Kevin Durant, and those guys. And you ain’t holding up your end of the bargain.”Charles Barkley
Barkley’s prior issues with Davis have usually come from the big man’s checkered injury history, once referring to him as “Street Clothes”. Now, Chuck just wants to see him be the All-Star he’s supposed to be.
An elite Anthony Davis is essential for the Los Angeles Lakers
At the end of the day, the Lakers are represented by the superstar trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook. Though Barkley’s feelings on Davis most needing to improve are valid, especially given what LA is like when he’s at his best.
In his best seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans and first year with LA, Davis was a nightly 28-point and 12-rebound threat who dominated on both ends. He helped spearhead an elite Lakers defense, while his clutch shooting throughout the postseason led them to a title.
That type of play has been seen at times this season. But it will take far more consistency for him to truly turn LA’s season around.
If Davis can manage to become a true two-way superstar once again, many of the Lakers’ issues will be instantly improved. If not, the rest of the season could continue to be a desperate battle to remain above .500.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.