EL SEGUNDO, California – After their first official practice together as teammates, Russell Westbrook called Anthony Davis ‘the ultimate weapon’ and vowed to maximize the big man’s impact for the Los Angeles Lakers this season.
“He’s one of a kind,” Westbrook said of Davis on Wednesday. “There is no one like him who can do everything he can do with his size. And my job is to make sure I continue to support him every day, every practice, every game, so that he can be on top of his game every night.”
Davis was nowhere near the top of his game last season. He missed 36 games due to injury, exactly half of the 72-game season shortened by the Los Angeles pandemic, which was more than he missed in any full 82-game season; he missed 21 games in the 2015-16 season.
Davis averaged the fewest rebounds (7.9) and blocks (1.6) of his career and also threw his worst percentage from the field (49.1%) and the free throw line (73.8%). His 21.8 points per game marked his lowest scoring average since his sophomore year in the league.
Heading into his 10th season, the 28-year-old Davis has already racked up a host of NBA accomplishments: eight All-Star appearances, four Defensive Team picks, and of course the 2020 championship in the NBA. Orlando bubble.
And that’s Westbrook’s point: Davis’s ceiling should be higher than it produced last season.
“He’s been in this league for a long time, so he understands how it plays,” Westbrook said. “He knows what it takes to show up, and I know he wants to do it now. So it’s my job to make sure he’s up every night.”
Davis, who spoke to reporters while sitting next to Westbrook after practice, heard what the new Lakers point guard had to say about him and hugged him.
“I like the teammates who are going to support me,” Davis said. “Encouragement: I don’t need encouragement. I want to be pressured. I want the guys to tell me when I’m wrong. Russ and I had numerous conversations in this first practice alone about the things we can do together as a duo. When we are both on the ground. “.
Davis went on to list a handful of teammates beyond Westbrook (LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan) who stick with him.
“That’s what I want,” he said. “I have a lot of guys who are always in my ear about things, so you can’t ask for more as a player who wants to improve.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel, who said earlier this week that he would push Davis in his own way by playing more with him in the 5 this season, believes Davis is more of an entrepreneur than he was letting on.
“I think Anthony, frankly, doesn’t need a lot of that,” Vogel said after the first of Los Angeles’ two daily sessions to open training ground. “He’s very motivated to recover from what happened last year and we were all disappointed that he couldn’t be at his best due to injuries and a lack of an offseason.
“But he’s definitely pushed himself this offseason, he’s looking great and we’re all going to push each other.”