Lakers’ Anthony Davis claims NBA best player title after historic opener vs. Warriors

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By Webdesk



Anthony Davis probably won’t make an All-NBA team this season. After missing 26 games and being surprisingly disqualified as an All-Star, most of the momentum for the third-team All-NBA slot went to Sacramento Kings’ Domantas Sabonis. Conveniently, the two now have a common playoff opponent.

Draymond Green and Kevon Looney spent seven games bulldozing the big Sacramento star. Sabonis saw his points, rebounds and assist averages drop suddenly against the Golden State interior duo. His field goal percentage fell from over .600 in the regular season to under .500 in the playoffs. The Warriors won Game 7 thanks to 13 offensive rebounds in the third quarter that Sabonis was unable to prevent. He was helpless against Green and Looney on Sunday.

On Tuesday, the roles were reversed. Green and Looney had no answer for the big man of the Los Angeles Lakers. Davis became only the second player in NBA history to finish a playoff game with 30 points, 20 rebounds, five assists and four blocks, joining Tim Duncan on that shortlist. He shot 90% from the floor in the first two quarters, becoming the first major to do so with 20 points and 10 rebounds in a playoff game since tracking began in 1997.

The Lakers were so afraid of meeting the Warriors without him that Davis played all 24 minutes in the second half. In doing so, they only handed the Warriors their 13th home loss of the season. Davis was so dominant inside that the Lakers managed to become the second team in NBA history to win a game in which their opponent made 20 or more three-pointers while hitting six or fewer themselves. The first team to do this? Also the 2022-23 Lakers who despite that deficit beat the Mavericks on February 26 as Davis had 30 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks. It was a historic assault from Davis on the two players who had just committed a similar assault on Sabonis.

Now, the idea that Anthony Davis is a better player than Domantas Sabonis is hardly groundbreaking. The comparison is there to serve a larger point. Throughout the season, Davis is overlooked and underrated. He has already emphatically proven that he is at least one of the top three centers in the NBA. In fact, he goes much further. With the “Best Player in the NBA” title currently appearing to be vacant, why can’t Davis grab it in a potential championship round?

Before we consider his candidacy, we need to define our terms here. Davis will never be an 82 game player. Sustainability is and remains a weak point. If you’re building a team from scratch, that’s a reasonable excuse to avoid Davis. But there are no more 82 games scheduled. Davis is healthy here and now, and if the goal is strictly to win the 2023 championship, he makes a strong case that he should be the pick, and when the dust settles there is a real chance he will emerge with the oft-discussed metaphorical title. belt among the league’s elite.

The rightful knock on Davis is that he is a limited half-court shot creator. That’s a legitimate mistake, but every candidate in the field has one. Giannis Antetokounmpo, who the near-consensus choice for “best player in the world” status before being knocked out in the first round by the Miami Heat shares that same weakness. Joel Embiid just won his much-anticipated MVP award, but the Brooklyn Nets held him to just 20 points on 46.2% shots in the first round. He is now battling a knee injury, which means he missed games for the fifth time in his six trips to the postseason. The only exception? A four-game sweep in 2020 against the Boston Celtics. Nikola Jokic won the two previous MVP awards and is the best offensive player of the bunch. However, his defensive limitations were reflected in his previous postseason losses, one of which came to Davis. Both Jokic and Embiid could have chances to face Davis later in the postseason if their teams continue to advance.

Stephen Curry now gets his chance and as reigning Finals MVP is the default holder of our hypothetical title. It would be hard to hold back his Game 1 loss against him given the 50-point Game 7 he dropped to the Kings just two days earlier, but it’s worth noting that Curry had a playoff high of 13 in that win. made 2 pointers. . He made only four on Tuesday while missing his other seven attempts. He, like the rest of his teammates, was terrified of meeting Davis on the edge.

That is the main point in his favor in these debates. He can’t score with Curry, but the defensive gap between the two is incalculable. That doesn’t just apply to him and Curry. It applies to him and everyone else in the field. Davis just faced the Defensive Player of the Year in the first round and he completely overwhelmed Jaren Jackson Jr. Here’s how their first-round defensive numbers compared:

Anthony Davis

Years Jackson

steal

8

6

Deflections

16

14

Blocks

26

12

Defensive rebounds

64

27

Disputed shots

100

79

Percentage of field goals allowed

33.3%

41.6%

And then there’s the sidekick argument. Davis isn’t even the most famous Laker. As long as LeBron James is on his team, fans and critics alike will grapple with the idea that this team now belongs to Davis. If James was healthy, maybe that wouldn’t be the case. But the foot injury that nearly ended his season has completely changed the way James plays. He has averaged just over 22 points per game in the playoffs to date, the lowest average of his playoff career. Most of those shots weren’t shot individually either. In the Memphis series, he attempted just 2.3 shots per game from isolation and 2.2 from pick-and-roll. At his peak, he averaged nearly 14 combined in the 2018 postseason. James can’t carry the Lakers now. The burden of doing this is on Davis.

He’s never had to do it for an extended period of time as a Laker, and it’s a role he’s still adjusting to. He managed to average over 32 points per game for a month at the start of the season which James missed but was injured immediately afterwards. Even now there are nights when the jumper doesn’t fall or a minor injury kills it.

But the version of him we saw in Game 1 against the Warriors, the player we saw most of the Memphis series and every time James was injured in the regular season, is more than enough to take the Lakers to a championship. to lead. This isn’t your typical Lakers super team either. His co-star is hurt. Its supporting cast is young and many of its leads just arrived in February. He has a freshman head coach hired by a general manager that the fans wanted to fire.

And so far none of it has mattered in the postseason as Davis has exceeded our wildest expectations. He’s not a perfect basketball player, but there isn’t one right now. Instead, the eight remaining teams each have exceptional but flawed stars competing for the hypothetical title. Davis is one of those stars, and right now he’s outclassing them. If he continues to do so, he will emerge not only as NBA champion for the second time, but as the league’s best player for the first time.





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