When the Los Angeles Lakers first traded everything they had built over their rebuilding period for one Anthony Davis, the move was not only seen as a “win now” move, but also one that could help bridge the gap between two different eras.
Davis would help form one of the best duos in the NBA alongside LeBron James for the next few years, and once Father Time finally started to take its toll, or LeBron left to go play with another team, Davis could then take hold of the reigns of the franchise and become their true number one superstar.
That situation may still be in the cards, but ever since the 2019-20 season, Davis has not looked capable of taking on that task. And now, LeBron continues to shoulder a heavy burden as he gets ready to enter year-20 of his NBA career.
But if recent reports are true, Davis is going to get another chance (possibly the last) to show that he can handle a majority of the team’s offensive responsibilities.
Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes had this to say about what new head coach Darvin Ham and LeBron want from the big man this upcoming season:
Furthermore, the first-year head coach said one wrinkle he will implement and stick with is having the offense run through Anthony Davis, and James concurred, sources said. The team has been encouraged with Davis’ offseason progression and believe he’ll be in optimum shape to avoid serious injuries and carry a heavier load.
At face value, it’s kind of preposterous that it’s even a story that a head coach will try to have his 29-year-old player work more with the ball than his 37-year-old player. But that’s the type of absurdity that comes with LeBron continuing to defy all conventions when it comes to aging superstars in the NBA.
But the difference between James and Davis over the past couple of seasons goes much farther than just age.
Ever since the 2020 NBA Playoffs that happened in the Orlando bubble, when AD rightfully earned consideration amongst the best living basketball players, Davis failed to share an equal load with LeBron, let alone taken control of the team that he fought so hard to join.
In the 2020-21 season, LeBron’s usage rate was at 31.0%, with Davis’ at 28.7%. After a difference between the two of only 2.3% that year, the gap in the 2021-22 season more than doubled, reaching 5.4%. That may not seem like much, but when you consider the fact that Carmelo Anthony’s usage rate trailed Davis’ by 6.8%, you start to see just how much more LeBron has to do than Davis to keep the Lakers successful on offense.
This wouldn’t be the first time that LeBron has wanted to have the Lakers offense play through Davis. Before the 2019-20 season started, we heard straight from his mouth that he wanted AD to carry more responsibility on offense.
But this year — as it is for LeBron, Rob Pelinka, and basically everyone else with the team — feels like a make-or-break year for Anthony Davis.
Will he be able to step up to the challenge that his new head coach and superstar teammate have set out for him?
Only time will tell.