The Los Angeles Lakers slipped to another defeat on December 9, losing to the Philadelphia 76ers in overtime.
As usual, Anthony Davis dominated proceedings, dropping 31 points, pulling down 12 rebounds, blocking two shots, and garnering two steals while shooting 69.2% from the field. According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, that could be part of the Lakers’ problems, in the sense that they’re becoming too over-reliant on Davis and don’t have the necessary talents surrounding him.
“It’s clearly Anthony Davis. Simply because the Lakers don’t have a defense without him, without him, they giving up about 123 points a game, they can’t stop a cold. That’s the bottom line. And that’s what it really really comes down to. And he’s their interior offense as well. LeBron can get to the hole, Russell Westbrook can get to the hole. But, you talking about somebody that can play with their back to the basket, and get to the hole, get in the paint, make things happen, block shots, rebound – that would be Anthony Davis,” Smith said when discussing if the Sixers or Lakers were more reliant on their dominant big man.
Davis has been leading the line for the Lakers this season, with his exceptional performances putting him firmly in the MVP conversation due to his 27.5 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game on 61.5% shooting from two-point range over his first 22 games of the Lakers season.
Davis Having Best Stretch of His Career
According to Heavy on Sports Keith Smith, who was speaking on an episode of the Postin’ Up With Keith Smith & Adam Taylor podcast, Davis is currently playing the best stretch of basketball of his career.
“Davis, this is as good as he’s ever played. This is better than Bubble Davis. This is probably better than Pelicans Davis (too). You call him a disruptor. He’s an absolute disruptor on defense because he can very big. He can basically single-handedly destroy whatever it is you’re trying to do because he can switch out to the perimeter, hold his own out there. He’s great at cleaning up messes inside for his teammates. Sometimes he’s really good at just, you know, handling those straight-line drives, and you know, taking shots away at the rim.
So yeah, he’s playing absolutely phenomenal. The question is, is he gonna hold up? That’s all it really comes down to with Anthony Davis, is you know, can he continue to carry this heavy of a load, playing this well, and hold up for, you know, fifty plus more games, because if he can, the Lakers are probably gonna be in the play-in, maybe the playoff mix. If he can’t, then you know, it’s kind of you look at it like, well, that was a fun couple of months, and now we’re right back where we were once again with him,” Smith said.
The Lakers will be hoping that Davis’ injury history is now a thing of the past and that they can rely on him to lead their offense for years to come as he slowly transitions into being their primary superstar.
Darvin Ham Believes Davis’ Has Changed His Mindset
Speaking to the media on December 4, following the Lakers’ 130-119 victory over the Washington Wizards, head coach Darvin Ham revealed his belief that Davis has changed his mindset this season and is now ready to become the offensive force he’s been billed as throughout his career.
“I’ve been putting AD’s name on it, since day one. And it does help Bron, it allows him to be more efficient with his energy, more efficient with his workload. There are times where again, we can go through AD and just feed AD, feed AD, feed AD, and we’re not worried about LeBron having to be a world-beater or trying to make plays through three or four people. And Russ is in the same boat, allowing him to be able to play more freer. AD, he wants it. He wants to be that guy. He wants to be the guy for the team. And, I think it’s beautiful to watch because his teammates, they’re encouraging him, they’re trying to give him the ball,” Ham said.
The Lakers currently sit 13th in the NBA’s Western Conference and will be turning their attention to their December 11 game against the Detroit Pistons as they continue to fight for a spot in this season’s playoffs after missing out last season.