With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the Nets and Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in Brooklyn, the Lakers' duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis has kind of taken a backseat. Andrew Sharp and The Washington Post's of the Open Floor podcast discuss the brilliance of Davis and his importance to Los Angeles this upcoming season.
(Listen to the latest Open Floor podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Andrew Sharp: My main thing with the Lakers is that people are forgetting how amazing Anthony Davis is.
Ben Golliver: You made this point six months ago and it's another one where I wish you actually got one right, so really underscore: what's he going to be able to do next year?
Sharp: He is just incredible, and you go back to some of the seasons he had in New Orleans and some of the people he was playing with as a running mate
Golliver: Well, he's going to play with some of those same guys.
Sharp: He will be, he will be. But he's also going to play with LeBron James, who I think has one more elite season in him. And you run down the list the list of teams that are going to be contending for a title, a lot of people have sent this tweet over the last 72 hours: the NBA is a league of duos now. And it's hard to beat the LeBron James-Anthony Davis duo. If Kawhi Leonard and Paul Georgia are healthy, I would probably lean toward Kawhi and Paul George but it's close. And Anthony Davis has a higher ceiling than just about anybody LeBron has ever played with.
And for that reason, I'm not writing them off whatsoever here. I mean, particularly if AD plays his best version of defense, they're gonna have a really high floor. We were joking the other night asking are they going to make the playoffs. The worst version of this season could get very dark if LeBron has another groin injury and even when he came back he didn't look healthy.
Golliver: They could definitely miss the playoffs. And that says something about the Western Conference, but I think it also says something about their balance on offense and defense and their depth.
Sharp: And how much they're relying on LeBron, who we saw look mortal for the first time in his 15-year career last season and that's relevant.
Golliver: To me the healthy sign that things are going well for the Lakers is if Anthony Davis is the NBA scoring leader. I think that should be their goal.
Sharp: It's not beyond the realm of possibility for him to just go win MVP next year.
Golliver: It's definitely possible. So I'm looking at the list of NBA like scoring leaders year-by-year. Shaq is basically the last big to lead the league in scoring. That's going all the way back to 2000. Otherwise it's been perimeter guys or forwards.
If I was L.A., that's what I'd be going for. Because that would tell me you're playing at a pace that suits Anthony Davis. You're keeping him as actively involved as possible. LeBron is taking a little bit of a sidestep back in terms of his own scoring, setting up Anthony Davis, really allowing him to flourish and making him sort of feel like a co-star rather than a secondary star. That's the most important thing that can happen for the Lakers this season. That's how they're going to achieve the ceiling that you're describing. If Anthony Davis is the clear-cut No. 2 guy, then I really don't like this Lakers team.
Sharp: Right, and I assume that we're going to see Anthony Davis put together a monster season to help hold all of this together.