Even 9 years into his NBA profession, Anthony Davis nonetheless is often struck by how a childhood dream has performed out.
The Lakers’ massive man was scrolling by Instagram on the bus to the sector earlier than a playoff recreation final season when he got here throughout a put up about what number of postseason data his teammate LeBron James has. He despatched a message to James drawing on nostalgia and remembering one other bus journey he took from Chicago to Akron as a youngster to attend James’ camp.
“‘Seeing you for the primary time, you’re such an inspiration to all of us, you won’t know,’” Davis recalled writing on Sunday, sharing the message with reporters. “ ‘And it’s loopy how all the things comes full circle to now we’re on the identical staff battling for a championship.’ ”
Davis, James and the Lakers received that championship. Now sporting the league’s finest file early within the season, they’ve began to think about the following a part of the dream: a dynasty.
It’s a pure consideration heading right into a matchup with the Golden State Warriors on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Whereas Klay Thompson’s season-ending harm has taken among the air out of the matchup, it nonetheless presents like a baton hand-off: The final NBA dynasty taking over the staff that might be the following one.
“I don’t need to say we took over: The Warriors received three out of 4 or one thing like that, so we haven’t achieved that but,” Davis mentioned. “However I feel whoever the defending champions are form of maintain that customary that every staff desires to change into.”
For all of the discuss of the bullseye on their backs, the Lakers (11-3) have appeared robust of their begin, regardless of the drawback of a shorter offseason than another staff besides Miami. They’re averaging an NBA-best 11-point margin of their video games, and most tellingly they haven’t needed to prolong their stars to rack up wins: Nobody on the Lakers is averaging greater than 32 minutes per recreation.
It’s not simply this 12 months that the Lakers anticipate to be in competition: Virtually each significant participant is below a multi-year contract. Davis has the longest deal through 2025, however James and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are up by 2023, and Kyle Kuzma is thru 2024. Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol can stick with the Lakers by subsequent season. The most important query mark left is Dennis Schröder, who has expressed interest in signing an extension with the Lakers before he hits free agency this summer.
With so many key items locked up, it’s pure for the Lakers’ ambitions to have an extended runway. Kuzma mentioned the staff is concentrated on the aim of profitable its second championship collectively, which might create the muse for a particular period. This group of 9 returners now is aware of how powerful it’s to win one title — Kuzma cited the Spurs’ run below Gregg Popovich as inspiration.
“We’re making an attempt to get to that plateau and peak to proceed to win championships — a troublesome, lofty aim, however I feel that’s what all of us put out to do,” he mentioned. “Seeing guys signal contracts, be part of a championship window and simply attempt to make it occur. We’ve such a small time within the NBA and even smaller of a window, after we discuss dynasties, to make it actually occur.”
The Warriors discover themselves scrapping at 6-6 after an harm plagued 2019-20 season that left them with the worst file within the NBA. Thompson’s newest setback seemingly has lower off their alternative to compete for an additional championship this 12 months, however Steph Curry continues to be one of many league’s finest scorers, rating third with 28.4 ppg as of Sunday afternoon.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr mentioned going to the finals for 5 straight years was troublesome to handle by the tip, when lengthy seasons and mounting expectations began to soak into his group. He sees the Lakers in an idyllic a part of their adolescence of a dynasty once they’re nonetheless atop the world: For the Warriors, that translated to a record-setting 73 wins of their second season after they received their first of three titles.
“They’ve the boldness that comes with profitable a championship, and so they don’t have the fatigue that comes with profitable a number of championships,” Kerr mentioned. “That is actually a candy spot.”
The Lakers appear to acknowledge it, too. James went to 4 straight finals with each the Miami Warmth and the Cleveland Cavaliers, which could assist mood the group’s sense of invincibility. Kuzma and Davis each appeared to minimize that the Lakers already are within the midst of a dynasty, however acknowledged they’ve the possibility to create one.
Davis thinks quite a bit concerning the day he despatched James that message, and the way a lot anxiousness he felt coming into the locker room frightened that his teammate would make enjoyable of him for being “mushy.” However James mentioned nothing till after the sport itself, when he provided the same sentiment, Davis mentioned.
“It’s a reasonably cool second to be able to play alongside one of the guys that you looked up to,” Davis mentioned. “Particularly now for the following couple of years.”