These might not be the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers, but they sure are a fun team to watch with the superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
It is one thing to watch a Los Angeles Lakers game on television and it is another thing to watch the game live. On a broadcast, you’ll get the background noise of analysis, replays, and video angles. While in your seat there’s only the crowd noise, sound of the gameplay, and a fixed view from your seat.
On Friday night this writer got to see his first live Lakers game with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the same court facing the New Orleans Pelicans. It was a game with many storylines, you had Anthony Davis taking on his former team again, the former Lakers Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart returning to Staples Center for the first time since “the trade”, and the continuing storyline of the Lakers against below .500 teams.
Being in the arena live there were a few things learned just based on the “eye test” that confirmed some biases and also was worth seeing up close.
Anthony Davis is Elite (Anyone telling you otherwise is a liar)
Anthony Davis is an elite basketball player, seeing him up close for the first time easily confirmed that. Davis scored 46 points on 15-21 shooting and 3-5 from the three-point line while collecting 13 rebounds.
If you looked at just the stat line you could see that he was dominant but in-person you could see that he was otherworldly. Davis made it look easy most of the night, collecting points on dunks, alley-oops, mid-range shots and from the three-point line.
The Pelicans couldn’t do anything to stop Davis and when they did try to defend he was so strong the only resort was to foul. Davis went a perfect 13-13 from the free-throw line meaning he did it all.
On the other side of the ball Davis was just as dangerous he had three steals and despite just one blocked shot he did enough around the interior to alter shots and force the Pelicans to make them a jump-shooting team.
A convincing performance that was enough for me to declare Davis is among the NBA elite and anyone arguing against that is either stupid or a liar.
LeBron still drives the engine
There was a pronounced difference when LeBron James was in the game and when he wasn’t on the offensive side of the ball. LeBron was a +17 when he was on the court, but aside from that the ball seemed to move better it was less stagnant and players were getting wide-open shots with him out there.
When he would sit the offense would stagnate and the lack of ball handlers was way more pronounced. Guards Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were tasked with handling ball when LeBron was out and they did a poor job pushing the ball around bringing the offense down.
That is why twice the Lakers 20 point lead dwindled to single digits before LeBron came back in to get the offense going and push his minutes up.
With news that Darren Collison wants to return to the NBA, it is paramount that the Lakers’ front office get a ball-handler on the team who can keep the offense going when LeBron sits, otherwise, I doubt the Lakers can successfully navigate the brutally long NBA playoffs.
It’s FUN to watch a winner
After six years of missing the playoffs and watching many Lakers losses, it was just fun to see the Los Angeles Lakers be a winning team again. The team isn’t perfect there are still flaws but there was just something fun to seeing LeBron and Davis put on a display that makes the Los Angeles Lakers a top team in the NBA.