When the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Anthony Davis, the long-term plan was for him to serve as the heir apparent to LeBron James as the franchise face.
Because of a series of injuries, Davis has failed at proving himself ready for that task. That said, Davis told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that LeBron has been "in his ear about taking over the reins of the team" heading into the 2022-23 season.
"All I can do is lead by my actions,” Davis said. “I’m excited for this challenge and what’s ahead. I think we have a great group of guys to get the job done. It’s now about putting in the work."
Davis has missed more games (88) than he's played (76) over the last two seasons. He failed to make the All-Star team for the first time since his rookie season in 2021-22, finishing with just 40 games played as the Lakers slogged their way through a miserable 33-49 campaign.
“I went into this summer focusing on strengthening my body,” Davis said. “I have to be on the court and at my best to put us in position to be our best. I’m ready to do that.”
Even when Davis managed to stay on the floor, he didn't perform at his typical All-NBA caliber. He shot a dreadful 18.6 percent from three-point range, looking like a completely different shooter than the one who knocked down 38.3 percent in the postseason during the Lakers' 2020 championship run.
While the Lakers owe a large chunk of their disappointing 2021-22 to LeBron James' absences, that's kind of expected from a 37-year-old with more than 60,000 NBA minutes on his odometer. Father Time is undefeated, no matter how much LeBron continues to defy logic with his brilliance.
Davis is 29 years old. This is when his body should be at its performance apex. But Davis has never really been able to stay healthy for an extended period during his entire career. He's never played more than 75 games and has missed at least 14 games in seven of his 10 NBA seasons.
Human bodies do not typically get healthier after age 30—particularly ones of the near-7-foot variety. There is a good chance Davis never emerges as the next great Lakers cornerstone, instead settling in as a star who needs a better star next to him to prop up his team.
These Lakers will once again rely on an aging LeBron to handle that task. Once James' body breaks down and he can't handle the night-to-night load anymore, it's anyone's guess where this franchise is headed.