While the Lakers as a whole had a disappointing preseason, finishing winless in their six games, one of the brightest spots of the slate of exhibition games was Anthony Davis. Coming off effectively a lost season due to his slow start and injuries, Davis responded this preseason with a reminder of how dominant he can be.
From the first game of the preseason when he opted to play while his fellow superstars LeBron James and Russell Westbrook took a slower approach to begin the season, Davis set a tone early on. As impressive as his play was during the preseason, nothing was as important as him showcasing that he was fully healthy and ready to go into the season.
“I feel good,” Davis said following the preseason finale against the Kings. “That’s what preseason is for, to try and get in a rhythm and that’s why I wanted to play the majority of games, play five out of six, was trying to find that rhythm. I didn’t shoot it well tonight, but I think overall I found a great rhythm as far as shooting the basketball, conditioning, defensive tendencies and things like that, so I feel good going into opening night.”
Much of the focus heading into the season has been about how James and Westbrook will fit alongside one another this season, leaving Davis as the odd man out in much of the conversations. While it’s understandable given the star power of James and Westbrook and how poor Davis looked in his last time out, a healthy and clicking Davis will be a massive factor for the Lakers this season.
Defensively, no one on the Lakers will be more important than Davis, who is one of the league’s best defensive big men at his peak. For a team that sacrificed much of its defensive talent for offensive firepower, Davis’ importance on that end of the court has only increased.
The primary discussion about Davis this preseason has been about his position on the court as either a four or a five. His ability to be an All-NBA talent at either position is a testament to his versatility and further shows how important he can be to the Lakers this season.
All of that, though, relies on Davis being at full health. Without him, much of what the Lakers want to be is made far more difficult, if not impossible, as evidenced by much of last season. If Davis is at his best, the Lakers’ floor is raised significantly and if the preseason was any indication, Davis is shaping up for another huge season, which is great news for the Lakers and their fans.