With the season just starting, it is hard to determine how this Los Angeles Lakers team will flow together. After a tough loss to the Denver Nuggets on opening night, where Anthony Davis was a no-show in the second half on offense, many fans have chalked up this season as another let-down incoming. However, there are only a few issues to be addressed in order for the Lakers to win the Finals.
Anthony Davis’ Inconsistency
It is no mystery that Anthony Davis is one of the most frustrating players to watch, especially for Lakers fans. One night he may score 40 with 15 rebounds and an energy that spreads across the entire team, making them look unstoppable. But, on another night he will score 15 because they were easy setup layups, 6 rebounds as the center, and a lackadaisical attitude that negatively impacts everyone around.
It has become controversial that Anthony Davis brings his best on offense every other game. This was most apparent during the 2022 playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies. For example, in Game 3, Davis finished with a stat line of 31/17/2 with three blocks. However, in Game 4, he finished with 12/11/2 with four blocks. His lack of aggression on the offensive side of the ball results in many losses for the team. Without LeBron James, the Lakers would be even worse. At the age of 39 this December, it’s time for Anthony Davis to take the torch as the team leader.
Moving to Power Forward
The best way to bring out Anthony Davis’ best is to make him feel comfortable. In order to do that, he needs to be put back into his original position: the power forward. When the Lakers won the 2020 Finals, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard played the center position. Those two would chase down rebounds and play physical against opposing centers whilst Anthony Davis would roam on defense. And with the overtime win against the Clippers on November 1, Darvin Ham already seems to be implementing this strategy.
Jaxson Hayes and Christian Wood have been playing center more often with Anthony Davis on the court. With them on the court, Davis can roam more on defense and not play so physical. And in the past four games with this strategy, Anthony Davis is averaging 28.3 points, 14.3 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks. If Davis averages these numbers all season, the Lakers win the Finals.
Healthy and Ready
This is true for every team in the NBA, especially for the Lakers. If the team isn’t healthy, there is no chance the Lakers win the Finals. With LeBron James on a minutes restriction, it’s clear Darvin Ham is aware of how important it is to keep him injury-free. The roster is fairly deep and many players are earning minutes to see which rosters work well together. However, against the Clippers, Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Gabe Vincent all were unavailable already. This gave an opportunity to Max Christie and Cam Reddish to play, but the Lakers need every player available to win. LeBron James will not be putting up 35 points every game, requiring more players to step up when it matters. D’Angelo Russell was one of those players against the Clippers.
One of the main reasons the Lakers made such a deep run in the playoffs last season was Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves. It is the role players that allowed the Lakers to beat the Golden State Warriors, not just LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Denver Nuggets are the largest hump to get across, though. With enough firepower and if each role player plays at their best and can provide when needed most, however, the Lakers can win the Finals.