Anthony Davis says he's '100 percent healthy,' Lakers' title chances higher after hiatus
As he stayed stuck in quarantine, Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis proclaimed he really let himself go.
"I got so fat. I was eating burgers every day," Davis said Thursday on a conference call. "Conditioning is down."
Davis struggled saying those words with a straight face. He kept laughing and smiling. To be clear, Davis has put things in the proper perspective. During the novel coronavirus pandemic, Davis talked to family members that are health-care workers about life on the front lines. He formed varying initiatives to help the concession workers at Staples Center that were suddenly unemployed. Davis considered it "kind of a bummer" when the NBA halted operations on his birthday (March 11) "because I couldn’t do anything." With the Lakers (49-14) resuming their season at a quarantined site in Orlando against the Clippers on July 30, Davis plans to be among the league’s players to speak out on racial inequality.
Still, Davis found some relative silver linings during some challenging times.
LAKERS VS. CLIPPERS:Who is better prepared to resume season?
FULL SCHEDULE:All 88 seeding games to finish regular season
DON'T MISS THESE:13 must-see games on the new NBA schedule
After missing eight games because of various minor ailments in his right shoulder, right ankle, right knee and his tailbone area, Davis reported feeling fully refreshed. He did not need any procedures. Only time healed all wounds.
"I feel 100% healthy," Davis said. "Well, I don’t feel, I am. I feel like I’m ready, ready to go."
Those words should please the Lakers. Those words should also instill fear in their opponents. Davis was averaging 26.7 points per game on 51.1% shooting along with 27 double-doubles. LeBron James and Davis became the perfect duo, with James blending his assertive personality and pass-first mindset seamlessly with Davis’ post presence and laid-back demeanor. But even when James and Davis simply reported to the Lakers’ first mandatory individual workout on Wednesday, Lakers coach Frank Vogel could not help but feel more inspired.
"Just watching those guys work gives me a great deal of confidence," Vogel said.
Therefore, the Lakers have a great deal of confidence in how Davis will handle his role.
"Any time Anthony Davis takes the floor, you have a chance to see something special," Vogel said. "He continues to get better and he works extremely hard. Obviously, his talent is off the charts."
Perhaps that talent can assuage the Lakers’ other question marks.
Uncertainty lingers around if center Dwight Howard will play amid concerns about addressing racial injustice and the mother of his 6-year-old son dying from a seizure nearly 3½ months ago. To Davis’ delight, Vogel considered it unlikely he will play Davis more at center because of other options in starting center (JaVale McGee), two-way candidates (Devontae Cacok, Kostas Antetokounmpo) and small-ball players (Jared Dudley, Kyle Kuzma, Markieff Morris). At power forward, Davis will be needed more than ever.
The Lakers will have less wing depth without Avery Bradley, who opted out to care for his 6-year-old son with a respiratory illness. The Lakers have new players to integrate in Morris, Dion Waiters and J.R Smith. Vogel has been concerned with how to accelerate players’ conditioning without leading to injuries. Since he is fully healthy, perhaps Davis can assume a heavier workload.
"Obviously we’re missing a key piece in AB, but I think our chances are the same," Davis said. "Our chances are higher just because we’re all rested and we’re all ready to go. If anything, our chances got higher and it’s going to be about just who wants it more. Everybody kind of had a decompression of the season and obviously with stuff going on, but it’s about what team wants it more and which team can stay healthy."
To ensure staying physically and mentally fit, Davis stuck to a predicable routine.
He stayed active by training every day at home. He kept his spirits up by enjoying family time with his father (Anthony Sr.), mother (Erainer), older sister (Iesha) and twin sister (Antoinette). Instead of becoming stir crazy and risking exposure to COVID-19 by going outside, Davis stayed inside and mastered Call of Duty and NBA 2K. Not once did he wonder if he should sit the NBA’s resumed season.
"We’re in a position to win a championship. But two, I think we’re stronger together," Davis said. "Everyone in Orlando, we’re going to obviously be talking about everything that’s going on from a social injustice standpoint. And I think a platform of the NBA, where I think at that time, we’re going to be the only ones on TV. So, I think we’re able to have more people in the room from other teams and receive other ideas and figure out how we can change the world."
Once the games start, the Lakers seem more encouraged Davis can change their world for the better. He appears even more prepared to absorb pain since he currently does not have any.
"AD did a great job of that throughout the year," Vogel said. "When you’re able to do that and you’re on the floor, you have an opportunity to grow and your team has an opportunity to grow. When we get to Orlando it’ll be the next step in that process and his journey in this season as a Laker. Hopefully the best is yet to come."