From LeBron James calling Anthony Davis a Lakers legend to Darvin Ham saying he wants Davis to shoot more threes, all the talk regarding Davis during the preseason has been about him taking an ascension.
Against the Denver Nuggets on opening night, that leap looked imminent by the halftime break.
ANTHONY DAVIS GETS THE DUNK TO START THE NEW NBA SEASON pic.twitter.com/zqBG0UH8Xs— Ahn Fire Digital (@AhnFireDigital) October 24, 2023
Denver had no solution for Davis as he easily penetrated the paint and had 17 points on 6-11 shooting, including a few powerful dunks to keep the Lakers within nine at the half. He was easily the best player for the Lakers and if the team could just hit some threes and crash the boards, it looked like they could still win the game.
Little did we know, Davis was done for the night.
No, he didn’t get hurt or ejected, he just...disappeared. Taking only six field goal attempts and failing to score a single point in the second half, the Lakers never held a lead the rest of the night and the offense stalled, especially during the non-LeBron minutes. From a basketball pterodactyl dominating both ends of the floor to just plain old lackadaisical, such a drastic drop-off was perplexing from The Brow.
Plain and simple Anthony Davis needs to learn how to be effective without being spoon fed and while being double teamed. He can’t go another half all season without scoring he is simply too skilled for that to happen.— The Pettiest Laker Fan (@ThePettiestLA) October 25, 2023
Davis explained some of what went wrong during his second-half performance after the game.
“They started double-teaming, trying to crowd the paint,” Davis said. “I missed some easy layups around the rim, little jumpers. But I was trying to make the right play, kick it out to our guys when they double. Rui (Hachimura) hit an open three, Gabe (Vincent) had open threes, they just didn’t fall. But I have to shoot it more.”
If the solution is as simple as “shoot it more” what needs to happen for Davis to get in positions where taking a shot is the best option? Head coach Darvin Ham talked about possible solutions during his postgame presser.
“Just trying to move him around and attack and play downhill. (He) had some unfortunate misses. (He) had it going there for a while, kept us close.” Ham said, “But just want him to be all-out aggressive whether it’s pick and roll, him catching the ball in trail position, him direct post-up. Just want him to be aggressive. We’ll go back and look at the film and see if there’s anything we like and then go from there.”
It’s just one game and there’s no need to panic, but these are the same complaints people have consistently had with Davis his entire career. The lack of aggression, unwillingness to take more shots and the ability to become Houdini when a leader is needed on the floor.
If James plays 30 minutes or less this season, then the non-LeBron minutes will increase and historically, LeBron-led teams struggle whenever he’s off the floor. If those minutes are going to be a plus on the boxscore, someone has to produce and the best option on the team is Davis.
He has to be better, or James will have to continue carrying a larger-than-desirable load in Year 21 for this team to win games in the West.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.