5 Key Reasons Anthony Davis Is the Most Important Piece to the Lakers' Championship Quest This Season - Lakers Daily

5 Key Reasons Anthony Davis Is the Most Important Piece to the Lakers’ Championship Quest This Season

Anthony Davis and Montrezl Harrell

The restart of the 2019-20 NBA season is underway, which means the Los Angeles Lakers’ pursuit of an NBA championship has resumed.

It has been 10 years since the Lakers last won a championship. This season, they have a high chance of lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy. However, the success of their title quest heavily depends on superstar Anthony Davis.

1. The Clippers Challenge

Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis

The Lakers face a tough road to the finals as they will have to go through the Western Conference gauntlet.

While all conference foes can definitely give the Lakers a run for their money, it is the Los Angeles Clippers that have shown that they have a good shot at stopping the Lakers in their tracks.

The Lakers have a winning record against all the West teams that are playing in the bubble, except the Clippers and Houston Rockets.

Against their intercity rivals, the Lakers lost the first two meetings this season before winning the next two matches. They have played the Rockets just twice thus far, with both teams taking one game apiece.

Both Los Angeles teams boast superstar duos and deep rosters. They are currently first and second in the Western Conference standings and are on a likely collision course in the postseason.

For the Lakers to comez out on top, Davis will need to be at his best. In the Lakers’ two losses to the Clippers, he averaged just 24.5 points per game and converted just 42.1 percent of his shots. In contrast, he posted 32.0 points per game and a 50.0 percent shooting clip in their wins.

If the Lakers’ regular season battles with the Clippers are any indication, the seven-time NBA All-Star is crucial to edging the Clippers.

2. Offensive Centerpiece

The Lakers’ offense primarily runs through LeBron James. The four-time MVP leads the team in usage percentage at 31.5 percent this season. Although Davis is not that far behind at 29.5 percent.

A month before the 2019-20 season began, James suggested that the offense should run through his then-new teammate.

Against the Clippers, the Lakers will have to feature more of Davis on offense. Their Staples Center co-tenant has a number of players they can throw at James. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and even Marcus Morris have found success in limiting him in past playoff series.

The Clippers, though, have no clear answer for Davis, as evidenced by the last Lakers-Clippers tiff.

Davis was able to have his way against the Clippers on Thursday for most of the game. He went to the charity stripe 17 times as the Clippers could barely stop him from getting to the rim.

Davis has also exhibited the ability to create plays for his teammates. He generated four assists against the Clippers on Thursday and is currently averaging 3.2 assists per game for the season.

3. Defensive Anchor

Anthony Davis Defense

Davis is no doubt the Lakers’ best defensive player this season. He leads the team in defensive rebounds (7.2), blocks (2.4) and steals (1.5) per game.

Advanced stats have also shown how he affects the game on defense beyond the box score. He has a defensive rating of 101 this season, which is second lowest among the team’s rotation players.

His agility and length allow him to guard any player on the court. Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons gave this reason as to why he believes Davis is a better defender than reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.

The Clippers have various offensive weapons at their disposal, including elite perimeter players in Leonard, George and Lou Williams and low post scorer Montrezl Harrell.

The defensive versatility of Davis can help the Lakers make life difficult for the Clippers — or any other team for that matter.

4. Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

Some will say that James is the more valuable player for the Purple and Gold. He even has a strong case to win the league’s MVP award.

What James has done at his age is unprecedented. He is having one of the greatest, if not the greatest, age-35 seasons in NBA history.

For the season, James is averaging 25.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game. He is on pace to post the highest assists average of his career.

His skills, leadership and experience have been primary drivers of the Lakers’ ascent to the top of the standings in the tough Western Conference.

However, Davis has played an integral role, too.

Davis currently leads the team in average scoring (26.8 points per game) and rebounding (9.4 boards per game). Advanced stats have also proven how valuable he has been to the Lakers this year. The three-time All-NBA First Team selection outpaces his teammates in PER (28.2) and win shares (11.0).

5. Leadership Role

Anthony Davis and LeBron James NBA Bubble

James is known throughout his career for making his teammates better. But veteran Jared Dudley also stated that Davis has brought out the best in James.

Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis has brought the best out of LeBron and LeBron has brought the best out of Anthony Davis,” Dudley said in an interview with Michael Lee of The Athletic. “When it comes to Anthony Davis doesn’t get enough credit as far as being a leader. Pushing LeBron. People always think it’s LeBron to AD. AD’s presence defensively, him being a beast. LeBron trying to integrate him the right way, him being more vocal, him getting on teammates. People don’t see that side. LeBron might be the leader.

“But don’t get it twisted. There’s many times that he’s more vocal than LeBron. I want people to know this man gave up millions of dollars to come here and it’s not just to follow somebody. It’s a co-lead. For them to go on this path together, that’s why I was kind of bummed because of how well they were going to elevate each other in the playoffs. How these two were on pace to take their games to a whole other level. They were locking in. Like no other.”

There was even a game early in the season where Davis helped James overcome a bad first half by “getting on his a–.”

In the Lakers’ title bid this season, James is expected to deliver, as he has usually done in the past years. But for the team to raise its 17th banner, it will need Davis to stay healthy and live up to his potential.