As important as the synergy between LeBron James and Russell Westbrook will be this season, the chemistry between the latter and big man Anthony Davis will also be something to monitor as the season progresses. Throughout Westbrook’s career, he has paired well with the big men on his team, from Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams in Oklahoma City to players like Robin Lopez and Daniel Gafford last season in Washington.
“It’s going to be a big part of who we are, obviously,” head coach Frank Vogel said of the pairing following practice on Tuesday, “and it’s been really good early on. Obviously, like any new players getting used to each other, there are some issues early, but I think their chemistry on the court looks really good together so far.”
Davis’ versatility makes him a unique player to build chemistry with, as he’s capable of making plays all over the court offensively. He can be equally dangerous as a target on the roll after a ball screen as he can be popping out to the 3-point line.
Pair that with a guard like Westbrook, who has the most assists in the league since 2014 — over 500 more than Chris Paul in that span — and the pairing could be a dynamic one, at least on paper. An extra secret weapon that could help them build chemistry this season will be Rajon Rondo.
Of all the point guards Davis has played alongside in his career, no one has unlocked him quite the way Rondo has. Even after not playing last season, Rondo and Davis look like they haven’t missed a beat.
October 13, 2021
While Rondo and Westbrook have had a contentious relationship in the past, the two have buried that feud since joining sides this summer. Now on the same team, the former could help the latter acclimate to playing alongside Davis.
“For sure (there are things Russ can pick up from Rondo),” Vogel said. “I don’t know if they’re having private conversations — I’m sure they are, knowing Rondo — but every time we show Rondo setting up AD, we’re indicating those types of setups to the group, and I think Rondo being around that Russ/AD chemistry is only going to facilitate it and make it happen faster.”
Davis’ preference for Rondo also showed in a report this offseason in which he grew frustrated last season at how Dennis Schröder did not set him up like Rondo in the season prior. With Rondo back in the fold, the Lakers will be learning — both directly on the court, and indirectly through film and mentoring by Rondo himself — how to get the best out of Davis.
And if the Lakers are to meet internal and external expectations of competing for a title this season, Davis will need to be at his best. All the ingredients are in place for the Lakers to have a fruitful partnership between Westbrook and Davis this season. Now it’ll be a matter of if the Lakers can combine them in the right manner to bake up a winning formula.
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