Through four games this season, Los Angeles Lakers fans are surely not getting the experience that was expected. The season is just getting rolling, so there shouldn’t be massive concern just yet, but there are without a doubt pressing issues. Luckily, none of those issues include Anthony Davis.
For one, they have a severe shooting issue in a season where the additions and re-signed players were supposed to amplify their numbers. The team is shooting 34% on pull-up shooting eFG% (29th), 29% on catch and shoot 3pt% (25th), and 32% on wide open 3pt% (23rd). That mixed with D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Gabe Vincent, and Cam Reddish shooting a combined 8/45 from three (17.7%) is simply not a recipe for success.
Luckily, on Monday night D’Angelo Russell was able to massively improve on this going 3/6 and Gabe Vincent was able to hit his first three of the season. The others however have yet to find their stroke.
The main problem for Lakers Nation currently has to be the player rotations. Game one against Denver we saw a poor decision on Darvin Ham’s part to take out LeBron James in the 4th quarter just as soon as the team had momentum and pulled within 4.
Game two took a herculean effort from a 39-year-old LeBron to erase Ham’s mistakes of closing with Gabe Vincent who has still yet to hit a three this season, and in game three he ended up sitting the two players with the highest +/- (Rui and Wood) for the majority of the game.
It looked like the Lakers may have had Davis issues after the first game of the season. Davis put up a goose egg in the second half after scoring 17 points in the first half, giving talking heads plenty of ammunition against him. This was a reminder that AD is not a perfect player by any means.
Thankfully in the three games that have followed, we’ve not only seen him play well, but he’s playing at an all-NBA caliber on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. Against Phoenix he tallied 30 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and shot 59% from the floor. Against Sacramento he put up 30 points,16 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals and shot 50%. The next night against Orlando he racked up another impressive 26 points with 19 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Between the massive numbers, his defensive dominance, and the resurgence of his three ball (3/7 on the season), Anthony Davis finally looks prepared to deliver the MVP season Lakers fans have been yearning for since his arrival.
The best news of all: his high-level play can become even further unlocked if he gets enough minutes with his teammate Christian Wood.
The Christian Wood-Anthony Davis pairing has massive potential for the Lakers
There’s been a fairly glaring outlier in the Lakers’ wins this year compared to the other two games that resulted in losses. In the two wins, Christian Wood put in 21 minutes and 27 compared to 14 and 15 minutes in the two losses.
It’s not just his play alone (like locking up Kevin Durant and being a menace on the boards) that was key to both wins, it’s how having him in the game affects not just the team on offense and defense, but how he specifically frees up Anthony Davis to be the best version of himself.
It’s easy to see that the Lakers to this point have struggled with defensive rebounding, giving up an average of 17.75 second-chance points per game. While Davis has done all he can on the boards this season, the rest of the team has yet to provide adequate assistance. Except for Wood. Wood has averaged 13.1 rebounds per 36 minutes to this point and has helped in more areas than just the boards.
On the offensive end, it’s becoming abundantly clear that the two-big lineup of Davis and Wood pays dividends. With the aforementioned resurrection of AD’s three-point shot, Wood continuing to shoot at his career clip of 40% from three, and both players’ ability to bang down low creates some very uncomfortable situations for the defense.
Whether it’s AD getting the defensive rebound and Wood creating mismatches on the other end of the floor or visa versa, having not just another big, but another skilled big, opens up wonders for the other.
With their play styles of both being able to hang in the paint while also creating space for the other down low with their spacing, you couldn’t pick a better running mate for AD outside of maybe Brook Lopez.
The season is still very much in its infancy stages, but one thing is clear. The more time on the court that Anthony Davis and Christian Wood share, the better the results will be for the purple and gold.