Anthony Davis signed a contract extension this summer, securing him as a Laker until 2028. With such a lucrative deal, impressive performances in last season's playoffs and LeBron James not getting any younger, is this finally the moment Davis becomes the Lakers' number-one option?
James certainly thinks so, as he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“He is the face [of the franchise]. You look at all these [retired] numbers that surround this facility, all the greats that have come here and AD is one of them.”
It's always good news when the original leader of a team gives you the stamp of approval and approves a transition of power, but Davis will have to demonstrate this change in the hierarchy on and off the court.
While Davis has been the best defender on the Lakers and arguably in the NBA, his offense has had its moments of struggle, such as his Game 2 performance versus the Warriors or his inability to hit the three consistently since the 2020 season. To that latter point, head coach Darvin Ham has already expressed his desire to have Davis shoot the three more this year, wanting to see him shoot six three-pointers a game.
With LeBron's future past this season uncertain, this may be Davis' last chance to be the leader of a LeBron-led team. Given that the "leader" of a team is a nebulous thing in basketball compared to soccer, where there is a captain band to signify who that player is, whether Davis is truly the leader or not will be more of an eye test.
Suppose his production offensively is at the top of the team. If he continues to be a dominant rim protector, is more vocal on the floor and stays healthy, of course, maybe he will be the Lakers' best player and leader. Davis will finally follow in the footsteps of Lakers bigs of the past, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal and be the face of the franchise.
Until it's seen, though, everything revolves around LeBron. He's the biggest star in the City of Angels, and even his blessing of a change doesn't make it a reality. Even if Davis never usurps James as the guy, that doesn't have to be bad.
Many Lakers made huge impacts as the number two guy and won multiple titles. Pau Gasol is a name that comes to mind and his jersey now hangs in the rafters at Crytpo.com Arena.
Will Davis be the next player in the lineage to take the leap to unquestioned leader or will he continue to be an overqualified No. 2 option? This season should go a long way in determining that.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.