The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled this season and there is plenty of blame to go around. Most of the blame has been placed on Frank Vogel or Russell Westbrook, with many fans actually wanting to see Vogel get fired. On Tuesday’s NBA on TNT, Charles Barkley blamed someone else: Anthony Davis.
If you just look at the box score you would think this is absurd as Davis is seemingly putting up the same numbers and having the same production that he normally has. Barkley is definitely prone to making some interesting comments, and this could be viewed as just another comment meant to stir the pot.
However, when you really dive into it, Barkley might be on to something. While Anthony Davis isn’t the entire reason why the Lakers are struggling, he definitely is part of the reason why and it not getting constructively criticized for it as other stars would.
Before we dive into the reasoning in why Barkley is (somewhat) correct, let’s first look at exactly what he said:
Got it? Let’s dive into why Anthony Davis deserves some of the blame.
Why Charles Barkley might be right about Anthony Davis:
When Anthony Davis is at his best the Los Angeles Lakers thrive. Heck, Davis had one of the greatest postseasons ever in the Orlando bubble and while LeBron James took home the NBA Finals MVP, Davis was easily the most impactful player in the entire playoffs.
This team goes as Anthony Davis goes and quite frankly, Davis has not been very good this season. The team has been inefficient with him on the court and he is not having the kind of impact that a superstar is meant to have.
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First is the jump shooting. Davis is settling for far too many jump shots and three-point shots when he should be banging low near the rim. It is no secret that he does not want to be a center and that would be fine if he could actually stretch the floor consistently. He has not been able to. Davis’ jump-shot efficiency is among the worst in the league.
This is having an impact on the team as a whole. The Lakers’ net rating when Davis is on the court is 8.2 points lower than when he is off the court. Granted, the sample size when he is on the court is much larger, but that is a huge number and that should not be the case for someone who is meant to be a top-10 player in the league.
Davis has absolutely not been his best self and it is absolutely leading to the Lakers’ slow start. The team should not have been as bad as it was while LeBron James was out if it still had a top-10 player leading the way. Davis has not been playing like a top-10, heck a top-15, player this season.
That is where Chuck is only somewhat correct, though. Yes, Davis has not been as good as he should be, especially considering his age. However, the pieces around Davis is causing this. The floor-spacing on the Lakers is absolutely horrendous because of Russell Westbrook and the fact that the team has to play Dwight Howard or DeAndre Jordan at the five (recently it has been Howard, which has been nice).
The team has been given fewer and fewer minutes to the traditional centers, which helps, but the pieces around Davis are not allowing him to succeed at all. Davis is taking so many jump shots because the paint is clogged between these centers who cannot score outside of eight feet as well as having a point guard who cannot shoot the ball, either.
When was Anthony Davis at his best? There are two instances: the 2020 playoffs, when he played a lot of center (which he should be doing anyway) and the 2017-18 season with the New Orleans Pelicans. Davis was at his best when DeMarcus Cousins was playing alongside him. When he had another big who could space the floor while also helping on the glass.
So yes, Anthony Davis does deserve more blame than he is getting for the Lakers’ slow start. However, most of the blame should be going to the front office, which have not given their star players the best situation to succeed in.