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Anthony Davis says last season was ‘hard’ for him, and he’s determined to make his first year with the Lakers better

New Lakers forward Anthony Davis wants to move past the drama of last season and be better this year.

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Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports, Graphic via Grant Goldberg / Silver Screen and Roll

When Anthony Davis’ trade demand leaked in January of last season, it rocked both the Pelicans and the Lakers locker rooms. The toll the trade rumors took on the then-Laker young players has been well-documented, and the situation also greatly impacted Davis’ last months in New Orleans.

Not only was Davis vilified for wanting to leave the team that drafted him — and also for wanting to go to Los Angeles to play with LeBron James — but his role on the Pelicans changed. For the first time in his professional career, Davis couldn’t play basketball the way he wanted to. He was held out of nine games before the trade deadline, and even though he remained in New Orleans for the rest of the season, the Pelicans limited his minutes. Davis also didn’t dress for occasional games before sitting out the final seven contests of the year.

Not being able to play and compete, even for a team he eventually wanted to leave, was a strange experience for the superstar, as he relayed to Arash Markazi of the L.A. Times:

“It was different,” Davis said. “Being limited to 20 to 25 minutes was definitely different. Not being able to play in the fourth quarter and close out games was a little hard for me. I wanted to go out there and help the team win. I just want to play again. I was limited last season and now I’m looking forward to getting back on the floor and being productive next year.

“My season was cut short, or at least limited in terms of playing the game that I love. I’m excited to get back to it and get back into the swing of things. I started back working out, so that helps. I want to make this season better than the last.”

Much has been made of how James’ shortened season in 2018-19 could prove to be an unexpected blessing because he finally got to rest after eight straight trips to the Finals. Davis — who is only 26 years old — doesn’t have nearly the same amount of mileage on his young legs, but he certainly sounds rejuvenated due to joining the team of his preference, alongside a player who he grew up looking up to.

Davis finally got his first taste of postseason success during the 2018 playoffs, but followed that up with a disaster of a season. If he wants to get back to the former, Davis had better be ready to play with no limits, because he will have to shoulder a large load for the Lakers. He is the only big on the roster who is a proven defender, and he is the team’s second-best offensive player by a large margin. Given the relative lack of youth on this year’s roster, Davis will likely be tasked with heavy minutes as well.

The Lakers are already thrilled to be acquiring Davis due to his past production, but the bitter taste of last season could help spur Davis to even greater heights. It’s time for Davis to remind the league that he’s still a superstar.

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