The narrative surrounding Anthony Davis has largely depended on which version of Davis will show up on a given night.
Will it be the dominant two-way big man who can terrorize opponents or will we see Davis in street clothes? The inconsistencies that have also come at inopportune times lend to the wide spectrum of expectations, all of which were evident when the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Houston Rockets.
Davis had quite the start against the Rockets, scoring six of the Lakers’ first nine points and missing only one shot at halftime. The eight-time NBA All-Star didn’t suit up in Los Angeles’ brutal 128-94 loss to Houston almost two weeks ago due to hip issues and was aiming to atone for his absence by being aggressive from the jump.
The presence of Davis proved effective, as the Lakers turned a 28-17 deficit in the opening quarter into an 83-75 lead a few seconds into the fourth quarter.
Things, though, became much closer later on.
Davis remained a potent threat, but was facing foul trouble as the game went on. He continued to operate well offensively, but there were some missed shots that came as the Rockets defense adjusted.
Unfortunately, Davis fouled out during a critical moment in the game. With the score tied at 100, he was called for an offensive foul with 58 seconds left in the game, rendering him a mere spectator as LeBron James and Austin Reaves took matters into their own hands to give Los Angeles a 105-104 victory over Houston.
A performance like this from Davis is not something so black and white as his efforts especially in the first half kept the game from slipping away from the Lakers. However, you would have wanted to see Davis there during the final minute of the game, even if in hindsight, James, Reaves, and the rest of the team were able to handle things.
With all the flak he gets for the missed games and at times inconsistent play, Davis has had to play with some anger, as if he had something to prove. One can’t blame him given how the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic have surpassed him. The aggression has been crucial especially on defense, which Davis is expected to anchor. Health has robbed the 30-year old of some opportunities, but we may be at the point where he has to live with it and properly manage it, rather than cry over “what if”.
Davis’ 56 games in the 2022-2023 were his most since the 62 he played during Los Angeles 2020 title run and him surpassing 60 games would be a great achievement. Of course, this will also be contingent on how the Lakers manage his hip issue, which can be a tricky injury to deal with.
It’s fair to say that Anthony Davis has had a strong start to the 2023-2024 NBA Season, but we know that it’s better to assess things in the end rather than now. These strong starts from Davis are familiar to many, but a great end to his season will be a pleasant surprise to both fans and haters alike. After all, a healthy Anthony Davis is good for the NBA and basketball as a whole.