On June 15, 2019, the New Orleans Pelicans agreed to send Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, two future first-round picks and the right to swap picks in 2023.
It’s widely regarded as one of the biggest hauls for a superstar player on an expiring contract in NBA history, and the value from the Pelicans’ side has only increased with the type of production they’ve gotten from Ingram this season. However, while it was a lot for the Lakers to give up, Davis has lived up to his price tag, and Jeanie Buss, the team’s controlling owner and president, thinks he’s even exceeded it.
During an event for season ticket holders on Tuesday night, Buss said that Davis has blown her away with the way that he’s played this season (via Dave McMenamin of ESPN):
“In order to get a great talent like Anthony Davis, you have to give up something great,” Buss said. “But to have Anthony Davis as a Laker really is just ... he’s even more impressive than I ever thought he would be. And so, it’s exciting what we have.”
Through 52 games this season, Davis has averaged 26.6 points per game on 51.3% shooting from the field, including 33.7% from 3-point range on a career-high 3.4 attempts per game. The only other that have averaged at least 25 points per game on 50% shooting from the field and 30% shooting from behind the arc this season are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Davis has also averaged 9.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.5 blocks per game this season. According to Basketball Reference, the only other players that have ever averaged 25 points per game with Davis’ shooting splits and blocks per game are David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon, except Davis is averaging almost triple the amount of 3-point attempts Robinson and Olajuwon averaged in their respective seasons and his true shooting percentage is the highest of the group by over 10%.
The league has never seen a big man that can do as much as Davis can on the basketball court, and he showed off some of that versatility against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.
In 38:58 on Tuesday, Davis tallied 37 points on 13-19 shooting from the field (including 4-5 shooting from behind the arc), 13 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks. He also posted a season-high +30 plus-minus. It may have not been his highest-scoring game of the season, but it was arguably the best display of Davis’ many talents that we’ve seen all season.
Following the game, Davis’ superstar teammate, LeBron James, told reporters that he’s not surprised with the way Davis has dominated this season, but he admitted that Davis has been even better than he thought he’d be (via Lakers.com):
“It’s everything I expected and more. Obviously, that’s why I wanted him here. When you get a generational talent like that and you have an opportunity to get him, you just try to do whatever you can to try and get him. I gave my opinion on what I thought he could bring to this franchise. I gave my thoughts about the player, but not only the player — the person, and hopefully they took my advice to heart. Obviously, ultimately they made the decision to do what we did in the offseason.
“But, I mean, It’s no surprise to me — I already knew how incredible the guy is. He had 50 [points] in the All-Star Game and, you know, 30s, 20s, 40s and 20s he had when he was with the Pelicans. Just doing the things he was doing at that size, there’s not too many guys who have done that in this league.”
There are obviously still questions surrounding the Lakers as they start to prepare for the postseason, but the concerns about how James and Davis would fit before the season started have been answered to the tune of a Western Conference-best 47-13 record. In terms of how the regular season has gone, they’ve been the most dominant two-man duo in the NBA.
Next month, James and Davis will try and prove that they can get it done in the postseason, too, and while they’ll some stiff competition, they’ll have a chance as long as James and Davis are on the floor.