EL SEGUNDO – The Los Angeles Lakers went big and bold at the start of the 2019 NBA free agency period. With the acquisition of New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, the re-signing of center of JaVale McGee, and a one-year pickup of DeMarcus Cousins, it’s a pretty good assumption that the Lakers wanted to smack small ball (Golden State Warriors) back in its place and bring back the normalcy of the big man.
For the last five years, the Golden State Warriors have ruled the Western Conference with their small ball offensive attack, making it to five straight NBA Finals, and effectively changing the way things are done in the NBA. The Lakers, through their nifty free agency moves, have basically told the Warriors and the rest of the league that if you can’t beat them, go bigger. A lot bigger.
The Lakers finally made their trade for Davis, a six-time All-Star forward, official Saturday evening. In the meantime, with the swirl of free agency heightened as teams around the NBA were making moves all over the place, the Lakers didn’t stand pat with just their signing of Davis.
The Lakers went for a massive upgrade to their roster, adding Cousins and sharpshooters Quinn Cook and Danny Green, fresh off a championship run with the Toronto Raptors. That’s not to mention that the Lakers re-signed guard Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as well.
But the big story of the early summer is the addition of Davis, who was acquired in the deal that shipped Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram the draft rights to De’Andre Hunter, two first round picks, a first-round pick swap right and cash out the door. In so many words, the 2019-2020 version of the Lakers is going to look significantly different.
The three-team deal that the Lakers were involved in to get Davis made it possible for the Washington Wizards to obtain young talents Mortiz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, and Jemerrio Jones from the Purple and Gold. The New Orleans Pelicans, the team Davis played seven seasons with.
Davis now gives the Lakers another League superstar to play alongside LeBron James, who missed the playoffs for the first time in his NBA career. Davis and James form the team’s first superstar tandem since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal dominated the NBA during their heyday.
“Anthony Davis is arguably the most dominant all-around young player in today’s NBA,” said Pelinka. “Anthony represents everything we stand for, with his unwavering commitment to excellence as both a person and athlete. This is a historic moment for the Lakers franchise, and we couldn’t be more proud to have him.”
A three-time All-NBA First Team honoree (2015, ‘17, ‘18), six-time NBA All-Star and one-time Olympic Gold Medalist for Team USA (2012), Davis has averaged 23.7 points (.517 FG%), 10.5 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals over his seven-year career in the NBA.
Last season, Davis played and started in 56 games for New Orleans, averaging 25.9 points (.517 FG%), 12.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.6 steals in 33.0 minutes. A three-time league-leader in blocks, Davis was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team in 2018, while earning Second Team honors in 2015 and 2017.
Additionally, he has been voted Western Conference Player of the Month twice, coming in back-to-back months in February and March of 2018, and has earned the league’s Player of the Week award on five occasions. In 2017, he was named Most Valuable Player of the NBA All-Star Game after scoring a record 52 points in the game.
Originally from Chicago, IL, Davis was selected first overall in the 2012 NBA Draft and went on to earn First Team All-Rookie honors after totaling 20 double-doubles with averages of 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 1.2 steals and 1.0 assist per game.
In his lone season at Kentucky, Davis was voted as the consensus National Player of the Year and a First Team All-American after leading the Wildcats to the 2012 NCAA Championship. The NABC and SEC Defensive Player of the Year was also SEC Player of the Year, tallying 14.2 points (.623 FG%), 10.4 rebounds, 4.7 blocks, 1.4 steals and 1.3 assists in 40 games.