Lakers: Why Anthony Davis needs to be the best player if to win a ring

Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images) /

If the Los Angeles Lakers want to win the NBA Championship this year, Anthony Davis has to be their best player.

From the first day The Brow arrived to Los Angeles, championship aspirations were placed on his and LeBron James’ shoulders. Anthony Davis’ arrival brought hope to a Los Angeles Lakers fanbase that hadn’t sniffed the playoffs since 2013 and whose last championship came in 2010.

Before the season shutdown, the Lakers were mostly living up to those expectations by holding on to the #1 seed in the Western Conference with Davis and LeBron leading the way. However, later came the Orlando bubble, and the Lakers’ once-prolific offense plummeted towards the bottom.

Prior to the season restarting, the Lakers ranked 10th in adjusted offensive rating but during the 8 restart games, the Lakers’ offense went cold, ranking dead last on several categories.

Those offensive woes continued on Tuesday during a Game 1 loss in which the Lakers could only muster 93 points against a defensively challenged Portland Trailblazers team. Davis shot 8-24 from the field and he was clearly bothered by Jusuf Nurkic’s and Hassan Whiteside’s interior presence.

Game 2 was a different story as Davis showed more assertiveness attacking the paint and hitting outside shots when needed.

The Lakers need these kinds of efforts from Davis for every game during the playoffs. Per, the Lakers went 7-4 on games in which Davis shot 40% or lower from the field. On paper, that doesn’t seem to be a problem, but when one puts that record in context an issue arises.

You see, 5 of those wins came against non-playoff teams (Bulls, Spurs, Hawks, Pelicans, and Knicks) while all 4 losses were at the hands of playoff teams (Clippers, Raptors, Thunder, and Pacers).

In that list, there is a potential Western Conference Finals opponent (Clippers), a potential second-round opponent (Thunder), and a potential Finals matchup (Raptors). Davis cannot keep having games like his Game 1 efforts or his team might be leaving Orlando on a very disappointing note. He has to be a much more efficient shooter.

Another key aspect of his game that must be addressed is his free throws. During that Game 1 loss, Anthony Davis shot 12-17 from the line which is one of the few positive offensive takeaways from the game. He had many attempts, which is a very good sign.

In fact, per, during the regular season games in which AD shot 15 free throws or more, the Lakers had a record of 5-1 (that lone loss came against the Bucks).

The Lakers have proven to be successful when Davis lives at the line as it usually means that the other team’s starting big man is in foul trouble, opening up driving lanes for LeBron James and a team that ranked 21st in three-point percentage (Danny Green might have something to do with that).

For this team to have success and bring home a record-tying 17th championship, Anthony Davis has to be at the top of his game. LeBron James is already 35 and put up a historic regular season campaign.

But ever since the season resumed, LeBron’s offensive output has decreased drastically and in a team so devoid of playmakers (No other player on the team averaged more than 5 assists per game), it might be of greater benefit to have the league-leader in assists initiate the offense.

Next. The magic number to defeat the Blazers. dark

The Lakers have the league’s best duo by a mile, but they have to complement each other in order to bring more glory to this storied franchise.