Home / Sport / Lakers vs Heat: Anthony Davis’ elevated play with LeBron James on the bench transformed L.A. in a colossus

Lakers vs Heat: Anthony Davis’ elevated play with LeBron James on the bench transformed L.A. in a colossus

Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade made headlines recently from agrees with Kendrick Perkins, a retired player turned TV analyst that Anthony Davis complements LeBron James better than any other teammate in LeBron’s career – which of course includes Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Chris Bosh and Wade himself. While that may be true, what really took Davis’ play to another level this post-season is the minutes LeBron is on the bench.

Despite Davis’ extraordinary regular season – 26.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game while playing first team in All-NBA defense ̵

1; the Lakers simply weren’t very good when managing the team without LeBron on the ground. . The Lakers had a net minus-3 score in 677 minutes during the regular season while Davis was on track without James, according to NBA.com, with the bout plunging from 111.2 points per 100 possessions to 106.4 with Davis as main offensive force.

Those numbers were used as proof in LeBron’s MVP campaign (he finished second and was not happy with the vote), and prompted some to question the Lakers’ roof if their offense required 35-year-old James to be on the pitch to be successful.

That script, however, is completely turned upside down in the playoffs.

The Lakers aren’t just dominating with their two best players on the pitch together. They are dominating even when James is on the bench, and that has everything to do with Davis’ stunning offensive performance. In a post-season that included his first Western Conference Finals and NBA Finals appearances, Davis averaged 29.3 points per game with the top team while shooting 58% from the field. He was almost unstoppable in stretches, including a 14-out of 15 start en route to 32 points, 14 rebounds (eight offensives) out of 15-on-20 in the Lakers’ 124-114 Game 2 win over the Heat on Friday.

“I’ve been playing with the CEO for a couple of years now and I expect him to get 50 every night,” Lakers guard Rajon Rondo said after the second game. “I could just assume playing with a guy like that that he’s so efficient, shoot 99 percent off the free throw line, make a big out on the floor and put the ball in the basket. He’s so versatile. He’s pretty damn close to playing like the best player in the game. Hands off “.

With LeBron on the bench this postseason, the Lakers have a net score of over 9.5 and virtually the same offensive score (117.5) as LeBron on the pitch – a huge change from the regular season. Yes, a lot of this has to do with Lakers manager Frank Vogel understanding rotations, escalating roleplayers and Playoff Rondo’s re-emergence from his cocoon, but Davis was also much more comfortable. in embracing its role as the main offensive threat.

It’s not even his only score – he can score in his sleep – but his efficiency has skyrocketed. During the regular season, Davis had an effective field goal rate of 54.7% with LeBron on the bench, compared to 62.6 during the postseason. The increase in efficiency was supported by an unprecedented mid-range feat: Davis made 35% of his mid-range jumpers during the regular season and during the playoffs which skyrocketed to a staggering 50.5 %. It’s an indication of how confident and comfortable Davis has been during the postseason, which has increased his aggression on the offensive side of the pitch.

“When the CEO plays aggressively, he just keeps us going. Whether he’s aggressive in dribbling, aggressive catching and shooting, aggressive on the pitch, aggressive on defense,” Lakers guard Alex Caruso said after Game 2. “It’s one of the most unstoppable players in the league. I like watching him because I know he is unstoppable whenever he wants. “

Part of that aggression is dealing with double teams, which come more freely when James is on the bench. Davis is much more balanced than he was during the regular season, patient when he has to be but also without thinking too much about the point of discrediting. Miami played mostly in the zone when LeBron was on the bench in Game 2, but watch in this clip from Game 1 as Davis patiently watches the field from the post, makes his move, waits for the double team, and makes a simple kick-out pass to Markieff Morris for a wide triple.

It’s basic stuff, but our Sam Quinn detailed how Davis’ improved post pass has allowed the Lakers to generate offense on the bench at a more consistent pace. Against the zone on Friday, he moved the ball to keep defenders away from the shooters for open looks. Watch as Davis blinks in the center, pulling Heat guard Kendrick Nunn away from Caruso, who buries the triple.

“Obviously defensively, he’s a unicorn, in my opinion, Defender of the Year,” said Vogel after Game 2. “But his shot, the many ways he can hurt you offensively in post, throw for the basket, work the baseline. how he did against the zone, working in the center, shooting 3 seconds from the perimeter is very unique, and you can only see his determination to win this championship on both sides of the ball, but tonight I thought you saw even more at the end offensive “.

Davis has come forward in so many ways in the postseason, but his biggest impact on the Lakers, who are two wins from the NBA title, could elevate his game to keep the dominant attack even when LeBron James is on the bench.

“His mentality is that he wants to be a champion,” Vogel said. “He is extremely motivated to play at a high level and you see him every time he comes down to earth”

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