An NBA champion believes Los Angeles Lakers superstar big man Anthony Davis will make history next season.
On July 20, ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins — who won the 2008 championship with the Boston Celtics — predicted that Davis would win the 2022-23 MVP Award.
“We all can agree that Anthony Davis is a top-five talent right now,” Perkins said on “NBA Today.” “Look, Anthony Davis healthy — I actually have Anthony Davis picked as my MVP winner for next season. Early prediction. I think Anthony Davis is gonna come back with something to prove. Anthony Davis has been wakin’ up at four o’clock in the morning, gettin’ in workouts, goin’ three-a-days.
“Anthony Davis looks in phenomenal shape. Anthony Davis has been hearin’ all the noise, all the chatter. Just remember, two years ago we were actually having a conversation about who would we rather [have]: Giannis Antetokounmpo or Anthony Davis. That’s how elite Anthony Davis was on both ends of the floor. So when I think about Anthony Davis, in my opinion, one of the most skilled big men to ever play the game of basketball. It’s nothin’ that he doesn’t have in his arsenal offensively on the offensive end.”
Davis appeared in only 40 games last season, averaging 23.2 points and 9.9 rebounds while shooting 53.2% from the floor and 71.3% from the free-throw line. The eight-time All-Star and one-time champion missed 17 consecutive games from late December until late January after suffering an MCL sprain in his left knee against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Then in mid-February, Davis sustained a foot injury versus the Utah Jazz, causing him to miss 18 straight games.
A future Hall of Famer, Davis has averaged 24.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.1 blocks in 138 regular-season games with the Lakers. However, the Chicago native has played in just 76 games over the last two seasons.
Rob Pelinka: Davis Is Having a Great Offseason
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka told Doris Burke and Mark Jones of ESPN that Davis has “quietly put together one of the biggest offseasons of his career.”
“He’s bought in, and I think he’s quietly put together, you know, one of the biggest offseasons of his career,” Pelinka said on July 8 during a Summer League game in Las Vegas. “You can just tell. He’s got a very serious tone about him. And, you know, last year didn’t unfold the way any of us wanted and I think everyone’s gonna come back with a chip on our shoulder and AD’s gonna lead us with that.
“I think he’s working hard. I know he’s working really hard on his body. Just excited to see what he’s gonna do. And I think you could tell, Doris and Mark, with the roster, you know, with the free-agent moves we made this offseason, we wanted to get younger. We wanted to get more athletic and faster and defensive-minded. Those are the things that coach [Darvin] Ham really wanted.”
Davis, who shot only 18.6% from beyond the arc last season, has been training with “Lethal Shooter,” one of the best shooting coaches in the world. The three-time blocks champion struggled with his jumper in 2021-22, shooting 34.8% on “jump shots” and 31.7% on shots from 10 to 15 feet.
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported on June 30 that the Lakers’ priority this summer was to address outside shooting. Last season, Los Angeles ranked 22nd in the league in 3-point shooting, hitting only 34.7% of its team attempts.
Davis shot 33.0% from deep in his first season with the Lakers (2019-20). If AD can rediscover his outside touch, the Lakers will be more dynamic on offense next season.
Davis: ‘When I’m Healthy, I’m a Motherf*****’
Davis knows he’s one of the top players in the league. He’s also aware that his injury history is the only significant blemish on an otherwise stellar professional NBA résumé.
“My job is to be on the basketball floor and play games,” Davis told McMenamin in April. “When I’m healthy, I’m a motherf*****. But I got to stay healthy. Unfortunately, it was two injuries I couldn’t control this year, but I’ll be back at it next year and see what happens.”
Davis signed a five-year, $190 million contract with the Lakers in December 2020. He has the same agent as LeBron James (Rich Paul of Klutch Sports), making a trade unlikely. ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported on the June 22 episode of “The Lowe Post” that Davis won’t be traded this summer.
The Lakers, who missed the playoffs last season despite having James, Davis and Russell Westbrook, are 75-33 in the regular season when James and Davis play.