Los Angeles Lakers big man Anthony Davis is still considered one of the best players in the NBA by most. Even though he comes and goes in terms of performance, many view him as no worse than top 10 in the association. However, it’s hard to defend that point of view on Davis when he pulls off his best Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde impression in a game like Tuesday’s season opener against the Denver Nuggets.
Let’s be clear. Tuesday night wasn’t all bad for AD; he came out hot in the first half, scoring 17 points, and shooting six of 11 from the field. That aggressive side of Davis is what Lakers fans have been wanting to see more consistently over the past few years. But once he entered the locker room at halftime, it was like a transformation.
Davis came out in the second half and posted a goose egg in the scoring column, attempting a total of six shots with only one coming in the fourth quarter. Hall of Famer and fellow Chicago native Kevin Garnett expects AD to win the MVP award within the next two years. KG might want to rethink that pick after Tuesday’s performance. Sure, we’ll hear on repeat that “it’s just one game,” but these types of games have become a staple for Davis since arriving in LA.
It’s amazing how some are still talking themselves into the idea that Davis can be the best player in the NBA. This is year 12 for AD, and we’re still hearing that ‘top five talent’ line used as a qualifier when he’s mentioned. If he hasn’t been the best player in the league at any point in his career up until now, then it’s not likely he’ll achieve it after reaching 30.
The time has come for fans (and analysts) especially to accept the role that Davis has settled into. He’s an outstanding player, even great at times. No one can take that away. But AD is inconsistent and will pull a disappearing act from time to time when the team really needs him to show up. Last night against Nikola Jokić, the Lakers needed AD to lead the way, and he did that for two quarters. Davis grabbed seven boards in the second half compared to just one in the first, but he’s got to keep his foot on the pedal, and score something.
Early on, it looked like Davis would take hold of the game, and keep the Lakers afloat, but that pipe dream was quickly shattered when they came back from halftime. If you’re a Lakers fan, you’d rather see him post those 17 points in the second half, so at least you could say he just had a slow start. To come out that fast and then go Harry Houdini over the last two quarters is brutal.
Before the season, AD said his goal this year was to play all 82 games. Maybe this is his way of achieving that goal. We may see more of these games where Davis chills one half and gives his all in the other. That strategy could work against some of the lower-tier teams in the NBA, but against Denver and other contenders, Davis, and the Lakers will need to go back to the drawing board.
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