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Anthony Davis, Lakers

Editorials

Anthony Davis’ time to build his legacy is now or never with the Lakers

Anthony Davis’ time to build his legacy is now or never with the Lakers

Anthony Davis wanted to go to LA, and he got his wish, as the New Orleans Pelicans struck a deal to send the superstar big man to the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month.

But I’m not sure Davis is fully aware of what he is getting himself into.

Davis is widely considered one of the best players in basketball, and you would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have him in their top five. But in spite of his immense talent, his resume is conspicuously empty.

Sure, he has a plethora of All-Star appearances, but he has never won an MVP award, nor has he made it past the second round of the playoffs. Heck, in his seven-year NBA career, he has only made two trips to the postseason in total.

We can bring up the Kevin Garnett comparison when Garnett was dealt from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Boston Celtics during the summer of 2007, but Garnett at least had an MVP and a Western Conference Finals appearance under his belt. Plus, he was regularly dragging horrendous teams to 50 wins and playoff berths in what was a rugged West.

So, while Garnett had a whole lot to prove upon arriving in Boston, Davis has even more to prove.

And the thing with Davis is, there isn’t going to be a whole lot of patience.

Lakers fans are desperate for, well, anything that resembles success, as Los Angeles has not made the playoffs since 2013 and has not won a playoff series since 2012.

Lakers, LeBron James

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The Lakers took a big step forward in signing LeBron James last summer, and now, Davis will be joining him to comprise what will likely be the best tandem in basketball next season.

But here’s the problem: James is turning 35 years old in December and is entering his 17th season. Basically, James’ time is limited, and the Lakers’ window is small as a result.

This isn’t expected to be a process; this is expected to be instant gratification.

A few years ago, you could have LeBron and contend for titles from here to eternity, but in 2019, that is no longer the case. Not only is James older but he showed signs of vulnerability health-wise for the first time in his career this past season, as a groin injury sidelined him for over a month.

Amazingly, it was the first time James had ever missed extensive time due to an injury, a testament to how much of an alien he has been since entering the league back in 2003.

But to use a tired cliche, Father Time is undefeated, and not even LeBron James is immune to its grasp.

That puts all the more pressure on Davis to come in and produce results immediately, and he might even have to do it as the best player on the team. Is he ready for all of that?

Davis is going from the NBA’s smallest market to one of the biggest in the world, and while I’m sure that has crossed his mind, it won’t fully hit him until he is smack dab in the middle of a rough stretch in January or February and the fans are getting on his case.

He is just 26 years old, so he will be around for a while, but he may never have a greater opportunity to win a championship than he will have over the next couple of seasons.

The chances of Davis playing with another player as good as James are slim to none, so if he lets this moment slip through his fingers, he may never fully recover, and his reputation may never recover along with it.

Anthony Davis, Lakers

Right now, no one knows what to make of Davis. Sure, he has put up monster numbers and is unquestionably one of the most gifted athletes in the league, but is he a winner? Is he a diva? Is he capable of leading the most popular basketball team on the planet to the promised land?

Chances are, Davis is totally built to win, but can he handle the pressure that will come with playing for the Lakers?

The Lakers are not the Pelicans. Expectations are completely different in Los Angeles than they are in New Orleans. So, if and when pressure begins to mount, how will Davis respond?

What I will say is this: if Davis is able to promptly lead the Lakers to a title, his legacy will forever be etched in stone. There isn’t much else like winning an NBA championship in LA, and if Davis can do it, he will be immortalized right up there with other great Lakers bigs like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal.

But if Davis fails and James declines and the Lakers are forced to start over, the burden on Davis’ shoulders will be nothing like anything he has ever experienced, and it will be difficult for him to ever truly become that guy.

The world is in Davis’ hands really for the first time in his NBA career, and the future is now.

If Davis can’t capitalize, the road ahead will be long and tough.