The Lakers pitiful start to the season and the constant talk of what trades L.A. can make to try and make itself a contender has pushed Anthony Davis’ early season performance to the backburner. However, as the Lakers continue to play better ball, Davis’ effort is the central reason why, and Sunday night provided the best example of that yet in a 130-119 win over the Wizards.
Davis is averaging 28.6 points and 12.8 rebounds per game this season, doing most of his work inside the paint as he has embraced the center position under Darvin Ham. He’s taking fewer long twos and three-point attempts than ever before in his career, and the result is a leap in efficiency, posting a career-best true shooting percentage of 64.3 percent to start the season. That will only rise with what he did against the Wizards, as he went 22-of-30 from the field for 55 points, gobbling up 17 rebounds as well in an absolutely dominant performance in Washington.
What continues to stand out is how he goes to work early and often in the paint, attacking with force in a way we haven’t seen from him in a long time, getting himself in rhythm before he even considers stepping out for jumpers. He knocked down 2-of-3 from long range, but waited til late to get those in once he’d already established a flow and forced the opponent to sit well off of him to try and stop another drive or roll.
This is the type of play many have wanted to see from Davis for years, and it’s a credit to both he and Darvin Ham that he’s finally embracing it. For all the issues plaguing this roster, Ham deserves an immense amount of praise for what he’s done in managing the stars on this Lakers team, as he has Davis thriving as a center and Russell Westbrook playing excellent ball off the bench, two things few thought could happen so quickly.