One Player's Addition Instantly Made His Team Title Contenders
He's regarded as the most dominant two-way player in the game by many around the league
Anthony Davis got exactly what he wanted when he demanded a trade out of New Orleans. The six-time All-Star was ready to move on to a bigger stage to prove to the world that he is the most dominant player in the game. He gave everything he had to the Pelicans over seven dazzling seasons, but it just wasn’t enough.
Davis’ first trip to the playoffs ended in a sweep by the Golden State Warriors in the 2014-15 season. They were massacred and beat down. Then, after a two year break, Davis led a marginal Pelicans team to the postseason in 2017-18, and they finally got out of the first round by sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers. Next, they were dismantled in five games by the Warriors. It seemed as if Davis would never get the glory of being the best big man in the game, but thankfully he has now moved on to bigger and better things.
Davis played with one other All-Star during his tenure in New Orleans, and that player was Demarcus Cousins from two seasons ago. Cousins ended up tearing his Achilles and Davis wound up in the playoffs without him. This was a large reason for AD’s request out of New Orleans, as the club didn’t attempt to bring Boogie back, nor did they acquire any other star to help him navigate the challenging Western Conference.
A Pure Talent
It’s clear that AD performs as the top-dog big man in the league. He’s a monster on both ends of the court, something that’s a dying art. On the offensive end, Davis ended the 2016-17 season at 28 points per game and finished the 2017-18 season at 28.1 points per game. His dip to 25.9 points this last season was largely due to the trade demands that led to less playing time overall. Still, the big man was insanely efficient, shooting 51.7 percent and 53.9 percent from the floor over the last two years. It’s no doubt that he’s one of the most efficient scorers that this league has to offer.
Davis doesn’t just score, but he averaged 12.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game last season as well. He accounted for a massive 18.8 percent total rebound rate (percentage of available rebounds a player grabbed while on the floor). It’s somewhat shocking to think that he hasn’t taken home Defensive Player Of The Year hardware yet, but it’s possible he garners more recognition in Los Angeles.
Davis has a stellar PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 30.3. A PER of 15 is considered league average. Michael Jordan has the all-time best PER over a full career of 27.91. LeBron James (27.59) and Anthony Davis (27.42) rank second and third, respectively. That stat strongly insinuates that the duo will be incredibly effective together.
The New Team
The Lakers couldn’t be more thrilled to have AD in their presence. It’s the first time since they traded away Shaquille O’Neal that they’ve had a big man that can be mentioned within the same breath. For the first time in his career, Davis will be alongside another superstar. James should take the load off of himself and allow Davis to take control as the number one scorer on the team. This should prolong LeBron’s career and keep him fresh for a playoff run.
There are other familiar faces for AD in Los Angeles as he reunites with old teammates Boogie Cousins and Rajon Rondo. The savvy point guard and bulky center meshed well with the superstar power forward. It’s the slightest bit of chemistry that this team will start the season with, and it’s enormous for the Lakers and their fully-revamped roster. This team will take some time to get used to each other and will need to adjust, but once they figure it out they should start churning at a high rate.
The one player the Lakers were able to keep out of the Unibrow deal was Kyle Kuzma. The young and talented shooting guard has received praise from the likes of Kobe, but ultimately had a sophomore slump season.
However, this year could have a completely different outlook for the youngster. Kuzma should help space the floor and keep defenses honest for Davis and LeBron. If you think AD saw a ton of double teams in New Orleans, well, that number is sure to reduce with much better talents on the court in Los Angeles. Teams will either suffer to leaving shooters wide open, or they’ll ache when they leave AD with a one-on-one situation (an impossible task for any defender in the NBA). This team should bring out the absolute best we’ve seen from AD.
With the talent level surrounding Davis being much greater than what he’s had to work with in the past, it’s easy to expect that his numbers should continue to improve. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s just reaching his prime at the ripe age of 26. It’ll be interesting to see how much his statistics like PER improves now that he’s alongside another brilliant mind and efficiency master like James.
We thought Davis was great before playing with anyone relevant, so how should we expect to see him moving forward? He will likely show up and perform as a leading MVP candidate. The West just got a lot more interesting, and Davis should continue to improve his game as he practices and picks the brain of one of the greatest players to ever live.
Note: All statistics above were found on Basketball-Reference.com. The advice above is the writer’s opinion and does not reflect the stance or interest of BetQL in any way.