The 2022-23 season is upon us, and for the Los Angeles Lakers and its fanbase, the hope is Anthony Davis will be healthy and looking like his former self. However, it all starts with availability, as his teammate LeBron James said during his interview on Media Day. Davis has caught a lot of slack for being injured often and this year the Lakers need him more than ever to be an anchor on both ends of the floor.
When asked about his health and what he has done differently this off-season to make sure he stays healthy, his answer might be a little frustrating to Laker fans.
Anthony Davis on his health, and getting ready in the offseason:
"I did the same exact thing as last season. I had two injuries that you can't really control. Guy fell into my knee, (I) landed on a foot … had a little more time to let my body rest and heal."
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) September 26, 2022
It’s simple, if Davis is not available to be on the floor the Lakers have no chance at being a serious team this year. If they wish to rid of the bad taste of last season, it starts with AD being the 2020 version that led this team to championship. Missing the playoffs last season was an embarrassment, but as Davis mentioned, it helped having the extra time off to let his body heal. Last year’s failure could turn into a positive for Davis, but make no mistake about it, this team still has its flaws. Russell Westbrook remains the elephant in the room after a horrid fit last season and a summer full of trade rumors. What’s next? Davis was asked what needs to be repaired with Russ after such a turbulent 12-month period and this what he had to say:
“I think it was just good to get on the floor again with all of us. Our time on the floor together was very limited because of injuries for myself and Bron, but I think that was really it. We just didn’t have enough reps, enough time together…hopefully no one gets injured and we all stay healthy and able to get after it every day in practice, compete in hopes to win a championship. Our job as the three headed monsters on this team is to come in and compete every day, kind of lead the charge for this newer guys here. I think for us is just getting that chemistry, building that chemistry and making sure that we are able to all stay healthy.”
Davis surely took the political approach and didn’t say much other than they just have to be on the floor more together. He is not wrong, the trio played very few minutes together and it all comes down to health. However, solely building chemistry will not be enough. Head coach Darvin Ham has been very optimistic about Westbrook’s fit this season and the former MVP will have to learn to acclimate to a new role. Whether that’s Russ showing no reluctance about coming off the bench or simply being more attentive and locked in on the defensive end, something has to give. We all expected him to be traded this off-season, it didn’t happen, so we must move on, but the question remains. Will a former MVP be willing to do the little things and put his pride to the side to help this team win? That remains to be seen.
Davis was also asked if he put any pressure on himself going into this season after last season’s disappointment. This is what the big man responded:
“For me, I am not putting any pressure on myself at all. I am going to go out there and play basketball, work hard, defend and do what the team needs to win basketball games.”
Interestingly enough, he followed the quote above by saying that he is not some “Greek God” and then stops himself to say he is not referring to Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Anthony Davis says he's not putting pressure on himself to be what people *think* he should be, like "some Greek God." Then sits with that a moment, and adds that he doesn't mean Giannis.
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) September 26, 2022
That was an interesting and funny moment. For Laker fans, they could only wish AD was as reliable and dominant as the Giannis. It was not too long ago when Davis was considered the better player of the two, but you would be hard pressed to find somebody arguing that these days. I do like that Davis is not added any pressure to himself because he knows what he is capable of.
Again, it all comes down to health and as long as he is on the floor, the Lakers have a perennial force to be reckoned with. This year however, the roster looks drastically different than last season. The Lakers got younger, specifically the front court. With the addition of Thomas Bryant and Damian Jones, Davis will have some young legs helping him man the paint. Davis was asked what this infusion of youth will bring for the Lakers this season:
“They play extremely hard. And that’s all we can ask of them, doing the dirty work. But we’ll see how it fits in training camp. We had a little thing in San Diego, we didn’t really do too much. But I think coming into camp, we’ll test a lot of lineups, a lot of situations where guys are alongside other players and we’ll see what happens. I am looking forward to these young guys and seeing what they bring to our team. Got shooting, got grit and guys who love being here, love being around the game, love learning…Also there going to bring the energy out of us…These guys are going to be running, and it’s going to push me, LeBron, Russ, Pat, to play at their speed, at their level. And I think it’s going to help us at the end of the day.”
The best part about this answer was how he described last year’s geriatric team with his finger moving at a snail’s pace. It’s safe to say nobody will miss DeAndre Jordan logging around the court as much as he did for the Lakers last season. Bryant and Jones will be able to run the floor and give the Lakers a dimension they simply didn’t have last season.
Will that help Russ hit the open floor more and be more effective? Maybe. Faster is better and getting younger was one of the few things the Lakers were able to accomplish this summer.
For Davis, the theme was simple. Stay healthy and build chemistry and they will be fine. It will definitely yield better results than last season if they are successful in sticking to those things. I am not comfortable calling this a championship roster, but it isn’t a lost cause, at least not yet. Could we be in for a surprise? I wouldn’t hold my breath, but with LeBron and Anthony Davis, you have to have a little hope.