In its 75 seasons of existence, the Los Angeles Lakers have, more often than not, been led by one of the best big men in the NBA.
The torch has been passed on from George Mikan to Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaquille O’Neal and to Pau Gasol through the years. Anthony Davis is presently taking up this mantle and has been doing so since this historic franchise acquired him in 2019.
While Davis helped Los Angeles win the NBA title during his first season with the team, he has since been plagued with injuries. In the three campaigns since their championship run, Davis has managed to play in only 132 out of a possible 246 regular season games. These ailments have ultimately hindered his quest to cement his legacy as one of the Lakers’ great post players.
The 30-year-old Davis had somewhat of a renaissance season last year though. He missed 26 regular season contests due to various injuries, yet still managed to average 25.9 points on 56.3% field goal shooting, 12.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.1 steals, and two blocks in 56 games. As a matter of fact, Davis’ field goal shooting and rebounding averages were both career-highs while his scoring numbers were his best since 2020.
Come the postseason where Los Angeles made a surprise run to the Western Conference Finals, his rebounding (14.1) and defensive (1.4 steals, 3.1 blocks) statistics saw a significant uptick.
Davis’ form over these past few months was apparently enough to give the Lakers enough confidence to reward him with a three-year contract extension worth $186 million. This will kick in two seasons from now in ‘25-’26 and keep him with the team at least until ‘27-’28 barring any unforeseen trade demands. The 6’10 forward became extension eligible last August 4 and Los Angeles’ front office did not waste any time as they sealed the deal on the same day.
This new contract will pay Davis a record-breaking $62 million per season, eclipsing the previous record that was set by the extension signed by Jaylen Brown almost two weeks ago that promises him $60.8 million annually.
Given that Davis’ new deal will only kick in two seasons from now, this lucrative payday is really more of a commitment from the Lakers that he will be the face of the franchise whenever the post-LeBron James era begins. Davis is still in the midst of his prime and has the potential to have many more productive years in the NBA, though he will have to find a way to avoid injuries.
When Davis does decide to hang it up in a decade or so, the hope around the Laker franchise is that he would have earned his place alongside the Lakers’ great big men. It will be interesting to see if the added security from this max deal can be that final push that helps Davis become the perennial NBA Most Valuable Player candidate that everyone knows that he can be.