It was a trade months in the making, but the manner of the trade still stunned the NBA world. The public trade request of then-Pelicans star Anthony Davis created a lot of confusion and hand wringing over many cascading topics: the increased power of superstars, the plight of small markets, the conduct of Davis’s (and LeBron James’) agent Rich Paul.
After an awkward final season with the team that drafted him, the six-time All-Star big man finally got the move he so desired. Davis was traded to the Lakers in exchange for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks.
This sort of trade barely had any precedent in the NBA. Both sides seemed to get what they wanted. The Pelicans got every asset possible besides young scorer Kyle Kuzma. LA went all the way in on the hope that combining the Brow and James would lead to glory within the next few years. So far, this season prove the Lakers’ brain trust correct.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James’ output
The counting stats are impressive enough. The Brow is averaging 28 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and two blocks a game while providing excellent defense on a nightly basis.
Meanwhile, James continues to age like the finest of wines, putting up 26 points and eight rebounds while having the best assist season of his career in his 17th season. But it’s the way they play off of each other that have made the Lakers an elite team.
The Laker duo’s combined output
James has had a lot of great teammates in his career. Dwyane Wade will be a Hall of Famer the minute he’s eligible. Chris Bosh was criticized heavily during his prime, but his defense and shooting ability was crucial to the success of the Miami Heat. Kyrie Irving, when he’s not injured, is a devastating scorer, especially in big moments.
But it can be argued that none of these players complement James as well as Anthony Davis. A few statistics suggest this is the best duo in the NBA by far.
According to Second Spectrum, through December 15, James has provided 86 assists for Davis this season, over 20 more than the second-place pair of Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris. When both James and Davis are on the floor at the same time, the Lakers outscore teams by 12 points per 100 possessions.
What makes Bron and the Brow so effective?
James and AD are so good together because their skillsets perfectly complement each other. King James is a pick-and-roll maestro who ranks 24th among 256 qualified players in direct picks received per 100 possessions and 27th in drives. Davis is one of the most effective scorers off of cuts in the NBA.
When James is driving to the rim, opposing teams have an absurd amount of options to defend. He can shoot from anywhere, get to the rim himself, or find an open shooter through the tiniest angles. With Davis adding a strong interior presence, the Lakers are close to unguardable.
A year ago, Davis and James were mired in seasons of struggle. Both dealt with injuries and organizational drama on their way to missing the playoffs. Now they are established as one of the top teams in the league (despite a recent losing streak) and one of the few that can realistically dream of a championship.
A lot of effort was put into making this pairing happen. We can already say it was worth it.
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