The Lakers Will Only Go as Far as Anthony Davis Takes Them

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The Lakers Will Only Go as Far as Anthony Davis Takes Them

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The Lakers Will Only Go as Far as Anthony Davis Takes Them

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Anthony Davis has been healthy for a large part of the 2022-23 NBA season, something that has not been the case for the last two or three years. His play in the second half of the season is one of the biggest reasons why the Los Angeles Lakers got into the postseason. But in order for the team to reach their ceiling of a championship, or even just a deep run, Davis can ill afford to be a non-factor in games. 

The Need for More Consistency from Anthony Davis

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Yes, the Lakers are up 3-1 in their first-round series with the Memphis Grizzlies, which is great. Many knew that the No. 7 seeded Lakers had a chance to upset the No. 2 seeded Grizzlies, given the health of LeBron James, Davis and the rest of the core in Los Angeles. But in two of the first four games, Davis was ineffective to say the least.

Let’s take a look at his individual numbers in Game 4. Davis went for 12 points on 4-for-13 shooting, 11 rebounds and four blocks in 42 minutes. The 30-year-old big man had just seven points in regulation, which just goes to show how well the Grizzlies defended him. Davis had some big plays in overtime, ultimately helping the Lakers seal the win. But on the whole, he needs to be much more involved, even against good defense.

The Grizzlies have been able to contain the Lakers star for half of the series without Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke. All of the responsibility has been left to the Defensive Player of the Year in Jaren Jackson Jr., who has avoided foul trouble (something he has struggled with in the past) throughout this series. The Grizzlies forward is an excellent shot blocker, but Davis is more than talented enough to score against him. 

Game 2’s loss in Memphis was a tough one for the Lakers, including the eight-time All-Star. Davis scored 13 points on 4-for-14 shooting, nine rebounds and five blocks in 38 minutes. His activity on the defense has been a constant, but he has had stretches where he goes silent on the offensive end. 

The Lakers should be able to overcome any lulls from Davis as they look to close out the Grizzlies, but that won’t fly for the remainder of the postseason. If they advance, their second round matchup would come against the Sacramento Kings or the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers would only win a seven-game series versus either of those teams if Davis is right. At the moment, it is difficult to read what the team is going to get out of him from game to game. 

With James at the age of 38, this window for the Lakers to win a championship is quickly closing. The Western Conference is wide open and has been all season, giving four or five teams a legitimate chance to get to the NBA Finals. James, Davis and the supporting cast are more than capable of going on a run. The only way that comes to fruition is if Davis is physical and dominant on the interior, each and every game.

The Variety of Weapons Within the Supporting Cast

If we have learned anything about the Lakers through four playoff games, it is that they have multiple players who can take turns as the No. 3 scorer on this team. Rui Hachimura has stepped up in a huge way, averaging 19.5 points on 57.8 percent shooting. His three-point shooting has been remarkable, as the 25-year-old is shooting a staggering 62.5 percent from three. It will be difficult for Hachimura to keep that pace up, but even if his percentages take a slight dip, the Lakers will be in great shape. 

Austin Reaves, the second-year guard out of the University of Oklahoma, has blossomed in his sophomore season with the Lakers. The 24-year-old is averaging 17.8 points on 49 percent shooting in the four games against the Grizzlies. Reaves scored 23 points in Games 1 & 4, hitting some big shots down the stretch in each win. His ability to work as a scorer and playmaker has been impressive, giving the Lakers another player who can run the offense. 

D’Angelo Russell cannot be forgotten, especially as an off-ball shot maker. The former second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft made two three-pointers late in the fourth quarter Monday night, giving the Lakers the lift they needed to eventually get the game to overtime. Russell is also averaging double figures, adding 14.5 points on 36.8 percent shooting. People forget that the 27-year-old is a former All-Star, and even though he hasn’t shown that lately, the Lakers have the spacing to still get great minutes out of him.

When it comes to depth, very few teams have a supporting cast with the same level of talent as the Lakers. Hachimura, Reaves and Russell are the first three names that come to mind, but Dennis Schröder and Jarred Vanderbilt are great in their roles as well. The depth is there and so are the stars for Los Angeles. If Davis and the rest of this group can put it together, the Lakers have a great opportunity to continue advancing through the playoffs. 


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