As dominant as the pair of Anthony Davis and LeBron James can be, the 2021-22 season represented a lot of misteps both away from the court and on it as well. Injuries limited the pair to just 22 games together this season.
Off the hardwood, it was James and Davis that campaigned to bring in Russell Westbrook, an experiment that failed spectacularly. Since Davis’ arrival in Los Angeles, both he and LeBron have had their say in roster decisions for the Lakers each offseason and it was Westbrook that they pined for last summer.
Now, the pair must return to the drawing board to try to help the Lakers reach championship contention, a feat they more than had a hand in just two seasons ago. During his exit interview, Davis spoke about whether he and LeBron could be the basis of a title-winning team.
“I think us two can,” Davis said. “We’ve shown that we can. That’s something we’ve just got to reevaluate in the offseason. Upstairs, me and him, talking about the season and what we’d like to see next season and just trying to figure it out. Like I said, we don’t know what’s happening... When (the season is over) guys like to take some time, decompress, think about themselves and then look in the mirror and then come together as a group and figure out what’s best for the team to get back to the championship mentality that we had in our first year.
“So that will be a very interesting conversation just from the standpoint of ‘what changed?’ I mean obviously injuries, but even when we were healthy, I don’t think we were able to reach our full potential for whatever reason. So we just want to figure it out and get back to that championship pedigree that us as players know we’re capable of, and us as an organization.”
First, comparing this message to LeBron saying he’d give the Lakers his input if asked for it is hilarious as it appears he is trying to distance himself from the front office’s decision-making, at least publicly, while Davis is still aligning with them.
No one was under the realistic impression that James and Davis wouldn’t have input on the roster decisions moving forward. The challenge now is that they have awareness of what type of player needs to be around them for both LeBron and Davis as well as the acquired player to experience success.
But so long as LeBron and AD are at the core of it, the Lakers will be competitive. It’s still a combination that — even if independently of each other this season — still looked as dominant as ever in brief moments this season. Having the baseline of seeing that pair lead the Lakers to a title in the past should be enough to believe that they can still do it present day.
The two have no always worked together during the offseason, but LeBron spoke during his exit interview about a willingness to do so this summer.
“I’m an open book. I’ve always been,” LeBron said. “I see AD periodically during the summer. I mean he has a lot going on, I have a lot going on, so we try to connect as much as we can. And he knows if he needs anything and vice versa that we are just one call away, one text away, one facetime away. I can pull up on him, he can pull up on me, without any notice.”
The only way that happens, though, is if James and Davis get on the right page and not just the same page this offseason and the Lakers are able to properly build around them once again, a challenge given the number of moving parts this summer.