Why Anthony Davis Must Take Torch from LeBron For Lakers To Beat Dubs

LakerTom
5 min readMay 2, 2023

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The headlines will say the Lakers and Warriors second round matchup is about LeBron James and Steph Curry but the truth is Los Angeles cannot win this series unless Anthony Davis takes the torch from LeBron James.

While 38-year old LeBron James and 35-year old Steph Curry are the perfect storyline, what’s likely to determine who wins this series is whether the Warriors are able to prevent 30-year old Anthony Davis from dominating. After two disappointing injury plagued seasons, Anthony Davis has finally gotten back to the superstar level he was when L.A. won the championship in the bubble and now appears ready to take the torch from LeBron James.

Frankly, it’s a shame this series is a second round matchup and not the conference finals as there are so many great storylines besides LeBron and Steph, including Davis vs. Green and D’Angelo Russell vs. his old team. Frankly, the NBA has to be elated at how these playoffs have turned out. The parity is rampant, the games terrific, the stars super, the matchups elite. The last 8 teams standing amazingly includes teams from all 8 seeds.

What makes this matchup exciting is both the Lakers and Warriors are finally healthy and playing their best basketball of the season with deep. versatile rosters that each featuring a pair of Hall of Fame superstars.
The Warriors opened as slight favorites despite the Lakers winning the season series 3–1, including the last three games. Most analysts favor the Warriors because of Steph Curry and their championship pedigree.

Anthony Davis and the Lakers must come out with the same ‘Game 7’ approach versus the Warriors they used in Game 6 against the Grizzlies. Their goal tonight is to steal Game 1 from an exhausted Warriors team.
Whether they can steal home court from the Warriors will depend on how dominant Anthony Davis is at both ends of the court in the next 2 games. To beat the Warriors, the Lakers need AD to take the torch from LeBron.

Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers must dominate the paint on both ends to pull off a surprise upset of the Golden State Warriors tonight on their way to winning the series in 6 games like they did to Memphis.

Anthony Davis on Defense

In the Los Angeles Lakers’ 40-point close-out thrashing of the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night, Anthony Davis showed current DPOY Jaren Jackson, Jr. and the rest of the NBA who’s really the league’s best defensive player.

Davis’ defense in the Memphis series was a master class in how to shut down the other team’s defense by taking away anything in the paint or at the rim and turning it into fast break points and points off turnovers. Against the Grizzlies, Anthony Davis averaged 10.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, and 1.3 steals. He also posted a stellar individual defensive rating of 100.4, which is the lowest of centers who played at least 20 minutes per game.

As a team, the Lakers’ 102.8 playoff defensive rating for the Grizzlies series makes them the second best defensive team in the playoffs. The Warriors posted a 109.3 5th ranked defensive rating for their first round series.
The Lakers 38.3 defensive rebounds and 9.2 blocks per game were 1st in the playoffs and their 7.0 steals in a game were 7th best. The Lakers averaged 16.2 stocks per game in the first round, which is also ranked 1st in NBA.

Davis and the Lakers will look to physically dominate the Warriors in the paint on defense. Davis and James will defend non-shooters Looney and Green so they can both roam around and play free safeties on defense. Vanderbilt, Russell, and Reaves will guard Curry, Thompson, and Wiggins. The Lakers may switch everything to keep Warriors’ shooters in front of them with Davis expanding his drop coverage and hedging and trapping.

Despite criticism for being injury prone, Anthony Davis has established that, when healthy, he is clearly the best defensive center in the league. No other center can defend all five positions at all three levels like he can.

Anthony Davis on Offense

Anthony Davis transforming himself from a jump-shot loving power forward to a full-time low post monster is going to have a dramatic impact on the Los Angeles Lakers’ offense against the Warriors and other teams.

Davis dominating opposing centers in the paint generates big advantages for the Lakers in points in the paint and made free throws, which is part of their formula for winning despite losing the 3-point shooting differential. The new-look Lakers offensive goal is to have Davis touch the ball on every possession. For his part, Anthony has looked to attack immediately when he gets the ball, which has made it harder for teams to double team him.

The trade for D’Angelo Russell and the emergence of Austin Reaves have made Anthony Davis’ transformation possible, giving the Lakers’ two point guards who can score and set up teammates for easy buckets in the paint. Russell and Reaves both have crafty handles and offensive games that are perfect fits for optimizing Anthony Davis strengths are a big man whether bounce passes off of pick-and-rolls or dunked lobs off drive-and-dishes.

With Russell’s and Reaves’ emergence and Davis’ ascension, James no longer has to be the team’s leading scorer or playmaker. Now he can focus on whatever the team needs to win, be it scoring, playmaking, or defense.
These changes make the Los Angeles Lakers’ offense a more dangerous as they now have four players who are all elite at attacking the paint in Davis, James, Russell, and Reaves as well as make plays for their teammates.

For the Los Angeles Lakers to succeed, Anthony Davis needs to take the torch from LeBron James and become the consistent go-to scorer his team can count on to be dominant in the paint and from the free throw line.

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LakerTom

Lakers fanatic since 1971 when team traded for Wilt Chamberlain. Founder, editor, and publisher of Lakerholics.com, a community for smart informed Lakers fans.