Davis’ points (22.3), rebounds (8.6) and blocks (1.9) are all down this season, and he’s struggled from the free-throw line as well, shooting a career-low 70.2% from the stripe.
He is also averaging just 5.8 free throws per game, down from an 8.5 average during the Lakers’ championship run, a sign that he’s playing less aggresive this season.
Some of that could be because of a nagging Achilles injury, which forced Davis to miss his second consecutive game on Wednesday night against the Thunder. It’s the fifth game this season that Davis will miss this year.
Injury update: Anthony Davis is out tonight vs. OKC due to right Achilles tendonosis.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 11, 2021
An Achilles injury always causes some concern, although ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported that “the Achilles tendon is in good shape.” What is cause for concern is that Davis has been dealing with right leg discomfort “for a while,” has a history of injuries on that right leg and hasn’t looked extraordinarily sharp this season.
“I think it can break your rhythm a little bit when you’re trying to get going and ramp up after an unconventional offseason. But it’s just the nature of an 82- or 72-game season. You’re going to get dinged up from time to time,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told reporters.
Barstool Podcast: ‘Anthony Davis is Soft — Period’
The dip in production has led some to question Davis’ credentials, with Barstool Sports personality Trysta Krick — host of the “This League” NBA podcast — establishing herself as one of the most outspoken critics of the Lakers forward.
“Anthony Davis is soft, period,” Krick said, even getting questioned by her producer about the statement. “If someone puts a shock collar on him, can he turn into a dog in the playoffs? Yes, we saw Anthony Davis turn into a dog. But we know LeBron James had the remote in his hand and the shock collar around Anthony Davis to turn him into a junkyard dog.”
While soft might not be the right word for Davis — as pointed out in the comments — a recent quote from James on the Road Trippin’ podcast about Davis being tougher now than he was early on in his career in New Orleans does mesh with that line of thinking.
“I watched him in New Orleans,” LeBron told his former teammate Richard Jefferson. “He would get these nagging injuries and be out multiple games. He would get the shoulder or the ankle and he would sit out. This year, no matter what injury he had, his a– came back on the floor.”
Krick, meanwhile, still had much more to say about Davis.
“He can disappear for stretches. He can be a marshmallow. I’m not saying he’s always a marshmallow or he always is soft. But he can be that way for long periods of time,” Krick ranted. “This boy doesn’t want to go anywhere around the rim. I get it — you won your ring, now you want to stick around the perimeter a while. It’s tough down there on the block. I don’t care that he grew up in Chicago, he was crowned king very young AAU, entitled, soft-spoken.”
Krick goes on to call James the Lakers’ Cesar Millan — AKA the dog whisperer — and says that Davis is “no Jimmy Butler.”
Lakers Want Anthony Davis More Involved in Offense
Those are some harsh words from Krick, but Davis has been hard on himself this season.
“Right now, to be hard on myself, man, I think I suck right now,” Davis said recently when describing his funk. “I’m not making shots. I’m not making free throws.”
The Lakers have been open that they want to feature Davis more in the offense, hoping that it would help him find his form.
“We want to make sure we’re playing through him as much as possible. We’ve got a lot of new guys on this team, so there have been times early in the season where myself and even AD have been trying to get other guys comfortable,” Vogel told reporters before a recent road trip.
The Lakers can afford to give Davis a little time off to get to 100 percent before he returns. The team is currently 19-6 and on a five-game win streak heading into Wednesday night at Oklahoma City.