Talk is cheap, and the Los Angeles Lakers know they still have work to do to not only get back to the Western Conference Finals but advance back to the NBA Finals. However, Lakers star big man Anthony Davis is eyeing a rematch with the Denver Nuggets.
Denver swept the Lakers in the WCF en route to the franchise’s first NBA championship, halting an improbable run from L.A. who got off to a 2-10 start last season.
“It was just a lot of the talking … going on,” Davis told the Spectrum Sportsnet crew on October 2. “All right. We get it. Y’all won. But … me and Bron had some conversations just like, ‘We can’t wait.’ … We feel like that we had enough to win. Obviously, we were climbing an uphill battle for two months trying to make it to playoffs. But it’s a lot of motivation.”
Nuggets coach Mike Malone has made several references to the Lakers even after the series.
To the victor go the spoils.
Davis did not mention him by name. But the sting of Malone’s comments may very well still be felt in the Lakers’ locker room.
“You want to win,” Davis said. “Anytime you lose you know it’s motivation to get ready for next season trying to compete for a championship. So that in itself is motivation. But also all the little talking that’s been going around all summer, we ready.”
Davis averaged 26.8 points, 14.0 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals in the Western Conference Finals. He even drew praise from Nuggets star and Finals MVP Nikola Jokic who called Davis one of the “most talented” players in the NBA, rattling off the different ways the Lakers star can impact the game.
But Jokic – 27.8/14.5/11.8 – proved to be too much, tallying 44 points on 51.5% shooting and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc when defended by Davis in the playoffs.
Denver and L.A. tip off the season as part of an opening night doubleheader on October 24.
Anthony Davis Downplays Seizing Control of Lakers
There are some – like Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett – who believe Davis needs to take his game to the next level, with the former champion even going so far as to call for Davis to win Most Valuable Player in the next two seasons. Davis’ ability to seize control of the team – which would be necessary for him to take the award home – has been discussed often.
He played that down on media day, though.
“I think it’s the Lakers team and I play for the Lakers,” Davis said via the team when asked directly if his three-year, $186 million contract extension signed this offseason gives him the sense that it’s now his team.
Still, with James heading into his 21st NBA season and turning 39 years old in December, that moment will need to come sooner rather than later.
Health a Big Factor for Anthony Davis, Lakers
The NBA’s new rules on availability could affect Davis’ ability to take home the MVP or any other season awards. But the bigger picture for the Lakers is getting him and James to the postseason in one piece and neither player appearing in more than Davis’ 56 games from last season in the last three years.
Davis says he didn’t change anything this offseason but knows he needs to be on the floor.
“It’s my goal every year to play 82 [games],” Davis said. “Nothing’s changed. Every year you want to come out and play every game and help the team win. Especially my role, I know it’s a big piece of this team, and with me being on the floor it definitely helps us.”