The Lakers seem further away than ever from that goal in 2022.
LA is off to a 2-9 start with a -8.4-point differential – the second-worst mark in the NBA.
Russell Westbrook has bought into his role coming off the bench and has played well.
But the results have largely been the same.
Los Angeles scores the third-fewest points per game while allowing the seventh most.
A Westbrook trade has long been the most discussed option to improve the team.
But has it reached the point where it may be time to trade Anthony Davis?
Davis Is No Longer The Player He Once Was
Davis has never been a model of health.
He has dealt with injuries his entire career, sadly.
Davis has never played all 82 games and has topped 70 appearances twice in 11 years.
But with the Pelicans and his first season with the Lakers, Davis was a two-way force.
His size, springy athleticism, and soft-touch meant he was a superstar on both ends of the court.
He could score from all three levels, protect the rim, and defend on the perimeter.
From 2015 – 2020, Davis averaged 26.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game on 51.1% shooting from the field and 32.6% from deep.
AD was a five-time All-Star, three-time First Team All-NBA, two-time First Team All-Defensive, and one-time Second Team All-Defensive team selection.
Let's talk about Anthony Davis:
3x BLK Champ
is in the middle of an all-time postseason run…
& if matched up against the right team AD could win Finals MVP
What would a ring do for his legacy?
— LegendOfWinning (@LegendOfWinning) September 21, 2020
During the title run with the Lakers, Davis was on another planet.
Across 21 games, he averaged 27.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game, knocking down 57.1% of his shots and 38.3% of his threes.
Injuries to his lower back, Achilles tendon, calf, MCL, and foot have prevented him from returning to his world-beating form.
Over the past three seasons since 2020, Davis is down to 22.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game on 51.6% shooting and 23.2% from deep.
He has been voted to one All-Star team.
But even through all of that, the Lakers are a better team with Davis on the court.
Per Cleaning the Glass, LA has a +3.4 Efficiency Differential during his 34 minutes.
Davis may not be the player he once was, but he is still only 29 and contributes on both ends.
Lakers Should Still Trade Westbrook
While Davis would certainly return a bigger haul in a trade, Westbrook should still be the player moved.
Westbrook has looked better coming off the bench but is still shooting just 32.5% from three while playing less-than-stellar defense.
For any teammate of LeBron, shooting and defense are the two most important qualities.
“And while it’s been a talking point on social media, the Lakers are not considering trading (Anthony) Davis, according to sources.”
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 10, 2022
Davis is still looking for his shooting stroke, but he is light years better defensively.
At his best, he can defend the rim and switch onto smaller players.
And if Davis is traded, the Lakers would still have Westbrook on the team.
LA is in a bad spot but should not yet look to trade their 29-year-old star.