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"Davis is clearly a league MVP candidate"- Steven A. Smith highlights Anthony Davis's impact on the Los Angeles Lakers recent success logo 12/9/2022 Will Starjacki

Smith is convinced the Lakers' recipe for success is tied to Anthony Davis and his ability to stay healthy because then he is the best player on their team

Stephen A.Smith & Anthony Davis © David Richard-USA TODAY Sports © Provided by Stephen A.Smith & Anthony Davis © David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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The Los Angeles Lakers had one of the worst starts by any team in the NBA. Starting 0-5 and eventually going 2-10, the playoffs were looking like a dream for the Lakers. However, since their 2-10 start, they have turned their season around completely. The team is 8-3 in their last 11 games as they sit with a 10-13 record. Russell Westbrook's improvements have played a massive factor in this turnaround, but this team's success can be credited to one man only. That player is Anthony Davis.

"Anthony Davis looks spectacular. Looks unstoppable, he looks like a top-five player on the planet" - Steven A. Smith on "First Take."

Smith couldn't have put it better; he has been remarkable over this 11-game stretch.

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Davis's offensive production

Over his last 11 games, Davis has averaged 31.2 PPG, 14.3 RPG, and 2.6 APG on 63/41/84 shooting splits. That includes the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he only played eight minutes. Davis became the first player to record back-to-back 40+ point games for the Lakers since Kobe Bryant in 2013. As if these scoring numbers weren't impressive enough, Davis averaged over 34 PPG in the ten-game stretch before the Cavaliers game.

While scoring is one of the most important aspects of basketball, you can't take rebounding for granted. Davis currently leads the league in rebounds per game with 12.3. 3.3 of these rebounds have come off the offensive glass, the seventh-most in the league. Leading the team in scoring and rebounding, it's clear how greatly Davis affects the Lakers' offense. That being said, his defensive production could be even better.

Davis's defensive production

While Davis has been very impressive on the offensive side of things lately, he has been just as good when defending the ball. Through 21 games this season, Davis has averaged 1.3 steals per game and the third most blocks per game with 2.3. As an individual, Davis has the third-highest defensive rating in the NBA, with a rating of 105.3.

The difference in defensive team ratings with and without Davis can highlight his effect on the team. The Lakers have a 112.0 defensive rating with Davis this season and a 117.8 defensive rating without Davis. Despite being three games below .500, the Lakers have the 15th-best defensive rating in the NBA. Though this is a smack dab in the middle, it's essential to remember that there are 16 playoff teams. This rating is primarily accredited to Davis's efforts throughout the season.

Davis is making his case for MVP

While being a candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year award, Davis also averages nearly 28 PPG and 12.3 RPG on the season. His efforts, both on offense and defense, have been vital to the recent success of the Lakers. His importance to this team is undeniable and was on full display against the Cavaliers. The Lakers would go on to lose in Lebron James's return to Cleveland after Davis left the game with flu-like symptoms. If they manage to be in a comfortable playoff position, winning MVP would be a legitimate possibility for Davis. 


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