The Los Angeles Lakers knew they felt like a special team before the 2021-22 season began. Russell Westbrook teamed up with Anthony Davis and LeBron James, hoping to lead L.A. to its second title triumph in two years.
Then, future Hall-of-Famer Carmelo Anthony joined in, finally getting to share the floor with James, his good friend. Also, L.A. signed Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk on deals that looked like the bargains of the offseason.
Davis says he believed the Lakers had what it took to claim the main prize in 2021-22.
“When we first put this team together and first came to training camp, I think everybody was healthy, I think maybe [Trevor Ariza] was the only one [that wasn’t]. But our goal was to win a championship,” the 29-year-old says.
“We feel like we had the pieces but injuries got in the way of that. That’s the difference in our season. I think even though we lost games where all of us were on the floor, me, Bron, and Russ, I think we’re three great players where we would’ve figured it out if we logged more minutes together.
“But we weren’t able to do that, it makes it tough to be able to compete for a championship when your three best players haven’t logged enough minutes together. So it’s unfortunate, but like I said, we got to recap and figure out what the rest of the season looks like and then going into the summer, what next year looks like.”
The reality hit the Lakers hard, as they got officially eliminated from Play-In Tournament contention three games before the end of the regular season. Injuries did massively contribute to L.A.’s misery, as the Westbrook-Davis-James trio got to share the floor just 21 times — which might be where the count stops considering the rumors of the Purple and Gold looking to offload the 2017 NBA MVP’s contract in the summer.
Davis reiterates the Lakers’ inability to fully unleash the team’s potential feels like one of the biggest regrets of the nightmare year.
“Just like I said the other night, I’m disappointed that we haven’t had a chance to have our full team,” he says.
“Whether it’s myself out, LB out, other guys, that’s the most disappointing thing. Not sure how good we could’ve been but for myself personally, two unfortunate injuries that kept me out for a while. That’s a significant part of the season and as one of the leaders on the team, especially on the defensive end of the floor where guys need me the most, I wasn’t able to be out there.
“It sucks for me, it sucks for our team and organization. Got to recap now and see what’s next.”
Davis admits to feeling angry and disappointed now that, after an injury-riddled season, the Lakers are officially back among lottery teams — only by name, though, as the franchise has traded all of their 2022 picks. But the forward doesn’t want to pin the blame for the Lakers’ implosion solely on injuries.
Davis assures he will re-evaluate his performance to help L.A. return to winning days.
“Knowing what it takes to get to that championship level and the last two years we haven’t been able to do that… Mainly me being off the floor, so I never point the finger at anybody but always look at myself and what could I have done to help the team,” he says.
“So when this season is all over, I re-evaluate myself every season, even after we won, and just see what I can do to help the team from the championship year to repeat and last year to get back to that level. But I haven’t had the time to really process it all, to be honest. Disappointment for sure, especially with the team that we had. Like I said, I really felt like we could’ve done something special.”
Davis yet to decide if he’ll play in last 3 games
Davis confirms his injured foot still hurts despite being able to come back on the floor last week. However, even though the Lakers don’t have anything to play for, he hasn’t yet decided to sit out the remainder of the season.
“A little more sore than normal tonight, it swelled up a little bit tonight throughout the course of the game,” Davis said of his foot after the loss to the Phoenix Suns.
“It is what it is. As far as the final three, I don’t know. I’m not sure yet.”
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