Lakers

Is 2023-24 the Most Important Season of Davis’ Career?

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On the heels of landing the richest annual contract extension in NBA history, one question becomes Anthony Davis — is this season the most important of his career?

This extension not only means that Davis will spend the rest of his prime years with the Los Angeles Lakers, but that the front office is confident he can lead the team once the LeBron James era ends.

The 11-year veteran is coming off a season in which he averaged 25.9 points, 12.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.0 blocks per game in 56 games — the most he’s played since his championship season (62).

For four seasons, the Lakers’ success has depended on Davis’ ability to stay healthy. In that time, Los Angeles has a 53-60 record without him and a 117-77 record with. Needless to say, the All-Star forward has been an essential part of LA’s success when healthy.

And it was evident during their run to the Western Conference Finals. Davis was not only healthy, but played at the all-world level everyone knew he was capable of. Leading the playoffs in rebounds (14.1) and blocks (3.1) per game, Davis was unstoppable in their 16-game stretch.

Will he continue his stellar play and validate this three-year, $186 million max extension? Or is the risk of injury looming as the Lakers contend for a title for years to come?

ASSURANCE MUST COME FIRST

Anthony Davis’ reputation as a player is simple — a generational talent who, when healthy, looks like a top-five player in the NBA. He has comfortably been the second option for a championship team, but is also capable of being the best player on said team.

However, his importance to the Lakers may be changing soon.

With the LeBron-era soon coming to an end and the value of continuity expressed by the organization in free agency, Davis must show everyone just who he is this season.

The hope for an MVP-like season from Davis has been halted by many factors in recent seasons. Whether it be an injury or him differing to an even-better LeBron season. Davis needs an MVP-level season this year to affirm the front office’s commitment to him.

He can’t wait for LeBron to leave, he can’t trudge through the regular season, and he can’t differ to anyone. Davis needs to define the back-half of his career this season. He owes it to Los Angeles.

DAVIS’ NOTABLE CONTENTIONS

Though needing to prove himself may be true, many signs indicate that Davis is straying further away from the other-worldly talent he used to be. The signs aren’t drastic. He recently showed us that he is still capable of being one of the five best players in all of the playoffs. Nonetheless, Davis has turned away from many facets of his game that made him a basketball unicorn.

Perimeter Shooting

It is without a question that what made Anthony Davis such a spectacle in his younger years was his ability to shoot from range. It not only influenced tremendous spacing, it also made him an elite three-level scorer.

His recent dip in three-point percentage has also hindered Davis from even confidently attempting a shot from beyond the arc:

The Brow returning to even slightly below league-average perimeter shooting would enhance the Lakers’ offense tremendously.

Weight and Strength

At his best, Davis was always too agile for centers and too physically imposing for power forwards. But, a recent desire to bulk up and be stronger to play the center position made him lose that feng shui. It may have also played into his shooting drought.

A lean and quick Davis has always been the best version of himself. Not only offensively, but defensively. His elusiveness was the reason he could always roam on defense and contest shots that are nearly 15 feet away.

Davis returning to the archetype the Lakers traded for would not only benefit the Lakers systematically, but it would also further AD’s ability to be the best version of himself.

A LEGACY-DEFINING SEASON

This upcoming season is important for Anthony Davis in many aspects. He can not only help define his legacy, but he can play a critical part in adding to the distinguished legacies of LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Davis has shown he is capable of returning to temporal stardom. He has a great surrounding roster and the keys to the franchise for the next five years.

Whether it be to affirm his extension or to define his eminent career, Davis’ 12th season in the league means more than many know.

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Anthony Davis LeBron James bobblehead

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About Connor Moreno

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