First impressions matter but they can change and Anthony Davis is a prime example for that.
Coming out of the University of Kentucky, Davis was viewed by many as a generational talent whose ability to dominate on both ends of the floor easily translated to the NBA.
Moments of dominance proved that he was one of a handful of players who could control the game on his own. While the NBA has been known to be a guard-driven league, Davis has been one of the few big men capable of challenging that claim, as his exploits during his time with the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans and the Los Angeles Lakers have been a sight to behold.
Yet with all those highs came some lows on the health side.
After the Lakers’ 2020 NBA championship run, Davis only played in 76 games over the next two regular seasons, with a litany of lower body injuries making him look like a shell of himself even when he was on the court. It’s become such a sensitive topic that one can notice the winces from Laker Nation every time the 29-year old falls to the floor.
Davis’ injuries have also taken up much of the spotlight that it has at times overshadowed much worse situations. Many had easily forgotten how Kawhi Leonard has missed more games and done much less for the Los Angeles Clippers during that span of time. Sure, injuries are beyond any one’s control, but it can be said that Davis has a leg up (no pun intended) on Leonard with the title he has won for the Lakers.
2022-2023, though, has thus far reintroduced us to the Davis of old.
Davis’ health woes seem to be behind him, as he has become Los Angeles’ top option on offense while having to anchor the defense on the other end. What was once a dismal 2-10 start, has now become 10-12, with the Lakers winning three straight.
Shades of the Davis that once scored a career-high 59 points on the Detroit Pistons were evident in Los Angeles’ 130-119 win over the Washington Wizards. The eight-time NBA All-Star was scoring through contact, altering shots in the paint, and bringing down the ball on offense, all of which came despite being the primary focus of the Wizards’ defense. LeBron James (29 points) and Lonnie Walker IV (20 points) were the only other double-figure scorers for the Lakers, but it was clear that Davis put Los Angeles on his back in this one.
His 55 points, 17 rebounds, and three blocks are stellar numbers considering all the things Davis had to deal with in the last two seasons and when combined with the eye test makes the “M-V-P” chants even on the road unsurprising.
This is quintessential Davis. Fingerprints all over the game. Fear instilled, win secured.
As great as this all is for the Lakers, it remains to be seen if Davis can sustain this until the crucial stretch of the season. An 82-game season is no joke, and a lot of factors can come into play later on. The heavy usage this early into the season has led to career-highs in points (28.6), field goal percentage (59.0), and rebounds (12.8), among other things, but one has to wonder how he and Los Angeles will navigate through this.
Davis and the Lakers might run the risk of peaking too early and rather than going on full speed ahead, Los Angeles can use this stellar run from four-time All-NBA Selection to find ways to make this strong run sustainable. Besides, Los Angeles is looking to extend their season until May and perhaps even June, and there will be times that short-term gains will be sacrificed for long-term goals. However, that is easier said than done.
The narrative on Anthony Davis continues to change, and at times it’s through no fault of his own. With a clean bill of health, he has managed to take control and with it, the playoff and championship aspirations of the Los Angeles Lakers.