Anthony Davis no longer taking bold stance on his Lakers predictions
Twenty-one games into this NBA season, Anthony Davis boldly predicted the Lakers were capable of winning 10 in a row. Maybe even more.
That would change the narrative, Davis said, shut up the critics and prove that the attention paid to his team would be earned and not merely given.
“We’re the Lakers,” he said.
At that point, being these Lakers wasn’t such a losing proposition. The hope wasn’t so abstract, the future not so dark and the clock not close to running out on them.
Fifty-one games into the season, that’s all changed.
Malik Monk scored 33, Anthony Davis added 27, but it wasn’t enough as the Lakers end the trip with a third straight loss.
Sunday inside State Farm Arena, Davis was reminded of his prediction. And this time, he wasn’t so bold.
After suggesting that the upcoming All-Star break in the middle of February would be a good chance for the team to get away and reset, Davis said he still thinks the future for the Lakers holds more than disappointment.
“I still believe that we got a good team. We just haven’t been all the way healthy for our team. I mean, all our players. LeBron [James] is now out. I just came back. I think the most frustrating part is that we can’t finish games. We’ve had a lot of games that we had won and teams come back and beat us,” Davis said. “…But I still have belief, man. We’re a good team. No matter what happens in the regular season, if we get into the playoffs, we’re a good team. And I still believe that.”
Maybe he does. Maybe saying it helps reinforce that belief. Maybe Davis, like anyone else who has watched the Lakers perform below expectations, also believes they are no closer to figuring out their problems than they were in late November.
The Lakers are three games below .500 following Sunday’s loss to the Hawks — a game they opened with the best shooting half of any team in the NBA this season. James is injured. Russell Westbrook is still trying to fit in. And the Lakers still feel so incomplete — partly because injuries are a problem and partly because offseason moves haven’t paid off.
The lack of players who positively impact the Lakers on offense and defense has been a near-fatal flaw. Coach Frank Vogel has swung between offensive and defensive lineups. Neither have been consistently effective, with the Lakers committing more to small-ball lineups with Davis and James at center because any other choice handcuffs the offense too much — and, frankly, doesn’t move the needle on defense.
And while the Lakers haven’t let these problems make them a miserable bunch, it’s easy to see that frustrations are starting to pile on.
Players and coaches have criticized the team’s effort. Sunday, Malik Monk was the latest to label it too casual. Westbrook and Dwight Howard made the same claim after the team was walloped in Denver. Vogel has openly talked about it. And privately, players have expressed anger that the team hasn’t been able to figure this out.
And there’s Westbrook, who began this trip fresh off a benching in the fourth against Indiana. He responded by playing well, averaging 22 points on 53.5% shooting with 6.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists during the trip.
“Never give up or give in,” Westbrook said.
Given the Lakers’ roster limitations, under-the-radar Austin Reaves’ steady development has become a rare personnel win for the franchise.
But after James injured his left knee, the Lakers lost three in a row despite Westbrook’s strong games. Critics saw this as confirmation that the problem with Westbrook on the Lakers is not just how he plays; it’s also that the cost of adding him to the roster was losing three capable rotation players, leaving the team without the financial flexibility to replace them.
It’ll be on Westbrook to sustain, if not raise, his level of play once James comes back, the team needing its three best players to be on the same page as quickly as possible.
Maybe the Lakers can pull off some magic before the Feb. 10 trade deadline, but with limited resources, it’s more likely that they’ll be forced to shop the buyout market for help — not the kind of place where teams generally make high-impact moves.
The Lakers have five games to figure it out heading into the deadline and another two before the break, but there hasn’t been much evidence to suggest that they will.
The results, the questions and the answers after these games remain the same. Only the bold predictions have changed.
All things Lakers, all the time.
Get all the Lakers news you need in Dan Woike's weekly newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.