Last night, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 113-106 — showing they are still the team to beat in the NBA. The Lakers were led by reigning Finals MVP LeBron James, as he made it rain in the Fiserv Forum with six made threes resulting in 34 points. He also added eight assists and six rebounds. The Lakers stayed afloat all game behind their three-point shooting despite some struggles here and there, as the team made 19 of their 37 attempts (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was a big reason for this along with LeBron as he made seven of his 10 attempts). One of those Lakers struggles in the game — as well as throughout the entirety of this young season so far — was the play of Anthony Davis as he continues to not play up to the standards that Lakers fans have come to expect.
He is also not playing up to the standards of his biggest critic — himself. After the win last night, Anthony Davis had the following to say about his play in the game as well as the season as a whole (all quotes per Dave McMenamin of ESPN):
“Right now, to be hard on myself, man, I think I suck right now. I’m not making shots. I’m not making free throws. But I think tonight my aggressiveness, just being a [post-up threat] and getting to the paint, allowed guys to get open.”
Davis later went on to say that he believes being aggressive will be the only way he can get out of the “funk” that he’s in. Still, even though his scoring may not be there (21.1 points per game on the season), he is slightly showing an improvement with his passing. That improvement may have been a natural response to the increase in double-teams he has received since joining the Lakers, something that LeBron James has noticed. Here’s what he had to say about Davis’ passing (six assists last night) and its connection to the double-teams he’s receiving.
“But I felt like since he’s been here, he’s so damn good that I know eventually he’s going to see a lot of double-teams. He’s continuing to grow every single game. Every single film session, we kind of break those things down — what he sees on the floor. Tonight was another example of him just seeing the other side of the floor and putting the ball on time, on target and guys knocking it down.”
Anthony Davis acknowledged this in respect to last night’s game, saying the following:
“I trust my teammates. AC hit one for me. Bron hit one and Kenny hit one, and they’re in the right spots where I want guys when I have the ball in the post,” Davis explained. “And just [am] able to make the read with their guys doubling or collapsing to the paint when I get there, and was able to kick it out and those guys made shots.”
Hopefully, Davis will be able to break out of this slump soon, as his performance this season has been disappointing in light of what was pretty high MVP expectations for the young phenom. Instead, it appears that his teammate LeBron James may be destined for an MVP award this season. Either way, the Lakers will need both players to be at the top of their games once the playoffs roll around if they are to repeat. Davis has plenty of time between now and then to correct things.