Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham stressed the importance of Anthony Davis being healthy and productive next season if the Lakers are going to bounce back from a disappointing 2021-22 campaign.
Speaking to Marc J. Spears of ESPN's Andscape, Ham said the following about Davis:
"With AD, I would say he's the biggest factor. I'm looking forward to him having a huge year this year. I know the way we're going to play is going to benefit him. The way I'm going to take care of him, make sure we take care of him, it's going to benefit him.
"That size, that skill set, that approach. What you saw in the bubble, we're bringing that back. And again, we got to make sure we take care of him, meet all of his needs physically and make sure he's in a good space mentally, spiritually, but he's the factor. This s--t ain't going to work without AD being right."
Davis is among the NBA's most dominant players when healthy, but he has been ravaged by injuries in recent years, limiting him to 36 games in 2020-21 and 40 games last season.
With Davis missing significant time, the Lakers haven't come close to reaching their full potential the past two seasons.
In 2021, the Lakers made it to the playoffs through the postseason play-in tournament but were eliminated by the eventual Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns in the first round.
Last season was even more disastrous, as the Lakers missed the playoffs with a 33-49 record, and both Davis and LeBron James missed extended periods of time with injuries.
Missing the playoffs spelled the end of Frank Vogel's tenure as head coach, and it opened the door for Ham to take over, shortly removed from being part of the Milwaukee Bucks' coaching staff when they won a championship in 2021.
One year before that, the Lakers were NBA champions, and that largely had to do with both Davis and James being mostly healthy and hugely productive during both the regular season and playoffs.
During his first season with the Lakers in 2019-20 after getting traded from the New Orleans Pelicans, AD played in 62 out of 71 regular-season games for a Lakers team that had the best record in the Western Conference.
He also put up huge numbers, averaging 26.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.3 blocks, 1.5 steals and 1.2 three-pointers made per contest.
Davis was even better during the playoffs that season, averaging 27.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.2 steals and 1.1 three-pointers made, and he had a strong case for the NBA Finals MVP award that ultimately went to LeBron.
The 29-year-old Davis still possesses that level of talent, but being unable to remain on the court consistently has prevented him from playing to his potential the past two seasons.
There are some major question marks surrounding Davis and LeBron on the Lakers' roster, especially when it comes to Russell Westbrook and whether he can bounce back during his second season with the team. But as long as both AD and James are healthy and productive, L.A. figures to be a factor in the Western Conference.