The Los Angeles Lakers are in disarray. A 12-11 record to this point suggests it could be a prolonged dogfight just to secure a playoff spot. An aging roster has looked very old and unavailable. LeBron James' idea to get a bunch of dads together for one last run at greatness has hit the predictable speed bumps as the geriatric millennials are living up to their name.
Anthony Davis, a spring chicken at 28 by comparison, has been the team's de facto ironman and most important player with James on the bench more often than anyone would like. And although his numbers aren't disastrous, it seems quite clear to anyone watching the games that he is currently incapable of carrying the team on his broad shoulders.
Los Angeles' plan to run the offense through Davis as James finally begins to show signs of wear and tear has proven to be problematic. The center's skillset is otherworldly but questions about his motor and ability to be an alpha have been appropriately questioned. Chris Broussard addressed those lingering problems this morning on First Things First, concluding that Davis is a No. 1 talent who is really a No. 2 player.
It's something James would never admit publicly. But at this point it seems like something we all see and comprehend. There's no great shame in being one of the league's elite players without that special extra gear that allows the most special to carry a franchise and elongate a dynasty. Broussard's critique is entirely fair even if Davis won't want to hear it and, more importantly, rectifying the issue won't be easy.
Davis' performance in the bubble, especially on the defensive end, was paramount to the Lakers hoisting a Larry O'Brien. The good news for those who bleed purple and gold is that he's shown signs of becoming the force he needs to be when it matters. He could always do it again. With 59 regular-season games to play, there's time for him to unearth something.
All is certainly not lost. But something will need to change, to click on, in order for L.A. to meet its lofty expectations. Fair or not — and there's a real argument to be made that the Thirtysomethings' age is the primary thing holding this team back — that's the reality. Davis has a custom-made opportunity to change that narrative forever just as Giannis did last season. This is a career-defining year. We're just not so sure everyone's going to be pleased with the final definition.