Though it may have caused a decent amount of drama, Anthony Davis’ tactic to essentially force his way to the Los Angeles Lakers worked out to the highest degree, earning him his first-ever NBA championship after failing to get past the second round as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans.
After announcing that he would be signing with Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports in September 2018, the writing seemed to be on the wall that Davis would end up teaming up with LeBron James in Los Angeles. Davis’ desire to be traded soon became well-known in the media just a few months later.
The Lakers and Pelicans couldn’t agree on a deal before the February 2019 trade deadline, but they finally made it work that following offseason. Partnering up with one of the best players in history in James, Davis is now a champion, and many players could take a few notes from his book and try to get themselves into a better position to win a title.
Here are five superstars who could find themselves with a championship ring by following Davis’ blueprint.
5. Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns signed a supermax extension in 2018, but the Minnesota Timberwolves have been wallowing near the bottom of the Western Conference standings for nearly his entire time there. While Towns did taste the playoffs with Jimmy Butler in 2018, the Timberwolves were quickly eliminated and Butler was traded a season later after the current Miami Heat star butted heads with KAT and Andrew Wiggins.
Minnesota then finished 11th in the West in 2018-19 and 14th in 2019-20. The Timberwolves finally bailed on Wiggins as a sidekick to Towns, acquiring D’Angelo Russell to form a new one-two punch.
Russell may be productive and a good friend of Towns, but this team doesn’t look anything like a contender in a loaded West. After a lot of suffering toward the bottom of the standings, it may be time for the star center to look at moving on in the very near future.
4. Devin Booker
Like Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker has spent most of his NBA career losing a lot of games after the two nearly won a title together at Kentucky. Also like Towns, Booker signed a big extension in 2018, locking in with his team on a five-year deal that commenced in 2019-20.
Prior to the NBA bubble, the Phoenix Suns seemed to be going nowhere. But then, Booker led the Suns to a torrid 8-0 record in the bubble and nearly reached the playoffs. Was this a fluke? Or will the Suns be a legitimate playoff contender next season with Booker and Deandre Ayton leading the way?
Booker seems to have taken the next step in his game, but it’s hard to say Phoenix is definitely legit given the competition in the West. While Booker may not want out now after his scorching-hot bubble performance, he could look elsewhere if next season is a dud.
3. Joel Embiid
Every celebrity has that one ex who watches them on TV, wishing they were making history with them. The ex watching is Joel Embiid, and the old flame (pun intended) is Heat star Jimmy Butler. Embiid had a team that truly could’ve made noise in the Eastern Conference for years to come with Butler.
Due to possible ego mismatching and an unorganized front office, Butler bolted for South Beach instead, earning him his first NBA Finals appearance this year. For Embiid, he watched the front office of the Philadelphia 76ers overspend on an aged Al Horford and Tobias Harris, resulting in a frustrating 2019-20 campaign.
Embiid still has a chance to earn himself a championship on a contender that’s ready to make the right moves sooner than later.
2. Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal has sat and waited on the John Wall bus to finally come to his bus stop, and it apparently should in the 2020-21 season as Wall attempts to return to form following an injury-riddled saga that has spanned over the last couple of years. The question for Beal, however, is this: Has time passed this Wizards era by?
Beal was snubbed for both the All-Star Game and All-NBA this season. Perhaps if Wall had been available to make the Wizards a more appealing team, Beal would’ve gotten the starred repute he deserves. Upon returning, Wall will be a 30-year-old guard whose skill set revolves around speed, something he may not possess as much of after rupturing his Achilles.
If Beal is smart, he won’t sit and wait much longer before his best playing days are behind him. While he signed a two-year extension ahead of the 2019-20 NBA season, don’t be surprised if he’s on the move soon.
1. Damian Lillard
This may be the toughest nut to crack. Damian Lillard is a player on this list who deserves more than anyone to be a champion, but he’s also the one least likely to leave his beloved franchise. Lillard has maintained his stance that he’s loyal to the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that has had some recent iconic moments in the playoffs because of Lillard.
It hasn’t been easy, and there’s really no one to necessarily blame for Portland’s shortcomings. They’ve drafted great pieces, made decent trades, and signed noteworthy free agents when possible. Portland, however, isn’t a city marked as a destination for free agents. Nonetheless, Lillard is willing and ready to go down in history as an elite point guard who never won a ring.
If his mind does change, though, he should act quickly to force his way to a team with a more desirable market.