Anthony Davis has already played 11 NBA seasons, and with such a large sample size and massive rap sheet of injuries, you'd think the Los Angeles Lakers would at least try to keep their options open on how to build the nucleus of their team. After all, LeBron James will soon enter Year 21 of his career and could be on the way out after the 2023-24 campaign in an effort to team up with his son Bronny.
Welp. So much for that. The Lakers are going all-in on AD. Don't get me wrong, when this man is healthy, he's a top-10 player in the league. A total dominant force on both ends of the floor. His defensive presence alone pretty much guarantees your squad will finish in the top half of the NBA on that end of the court.
Look at the number of regular season games Davis has played in since landing in LA from New Orleans, though:
- 2019-20: 62
- 2020-21: 36
- 2021-22: 40
- 2022-23: 56
SIXTY-TWO MILLION DOLLARS per year? Wow.
I guess a more optimistic way of viewing it is, the Lakers don't have anyone else on their current roster who you'd consider absolutely indispensable to their future other than Austin Reaves. Even then, whether or not Reaves regresses or maintains his trajectory and becomes a franchise player, there's no telling what the Lakers are going to look like in the post-LeBron era. There was an early termination on Davis' contract after this season, so a preemptive extension is a good-faith gesture by the organization that reassures AD he's the one they're building around.
Having blogged about the Lakers a lot throughout last season, it was clear that something got into Anthony Davis. Yes, I was still holding my breath every time he crashed to the floor and came up wincing in pain. For someone so talented, the injury bug has bitten him time and again.
But the 2022-23 version of AD had a sharper competitive edge than I'd ever seen from him. A more assertive mentality. For lack of better phrasing, Davis found "that dog in him" to impose his will on opponents more consistently and fight through some nicks and bruises he might not have earlier in his career.
…As you can see from the "missed games" tally, with all those positive signs and strides made, we're still talking about a guy who missed almost 32% of the contests he could've played in.
I know load management is a thing. It's really going to take a lot for Davis to overcome his injury-riddled past to live up to this unprecedented extension. Never mind, having the weight of such an iconic franchise on your back and being counted on to be the best player on a legit contender. Not that I doubt Davis has the ability to be the alpha on a championship team. It's just going to be a lot to ask unless the Lakers manage to lure another superstar perimeter player to the City of Angels.
Congrats on all the money, AD. It'll be wildly intriguing to see how LA's front office constructs this roster around Davis with such an exorbitant annual salary eating up so much cap space. Everyone affiliated with the team might start to feel a type of way if the Lakers aren't a top-three team in the West and AD isn't playing in every third game on average.