LeBron James' tenure in Los Angeles has been a roller-coaster. He's missed the playoffs twice, was sent home in the first round once, and won an NBA championship in the other season. All things considered, that seems like an outlier.
But let's take a deeper look at the Lakers' success in the past four years. They were a young team when James first came, and his injury doomed their season. Then, Anthony Davis came, the league was paused for months, and they won in the bubble with a healthy Davis.
Davis struggled with injuries in James' third season in L.A. And up to this day, he still claims they would've beaten the Phoenix Suns in the playoffs if he had been healthy. Then, A.D. misses most of next season, and they don't even make the play-in tournament.
NBA News: Darvin Ham Says Lakers Success Will Come Down To Anthony Davis' Health
Clearly, there's a pattern here. The Lakers' success has been tied to Anthony Davis' health, which is by no means a diss towards LeBron. If anything, one could only expect so much from a 37-year-old, and he's surpassed all expectations.
But that's why Lakers coach Darvin Ham believes that Davis will be the most important player on his team next season. If he manages to stay on the floor, then they'll have a chance to get back on top:
"Just to be healthy," the coach said. "At the end of the day, it all starts and ends there with him. His skill set is undeniable. When he's healthy like he was in 2020 in that bubble run, he's top 5 in the league easy, top 3! He is another one I've had great communication and great rapport with. And I just told him man don't be caught up in bulls*** and take care of your body."
"This is not gonna work without A.D.," Ham added. "No disrespect to Bron or disrespect to Russ, they're gonna be who they are. Bron is going to continue to be great and Russ is going to have a much, much better season but having A.D. available, especially with the guys we just signed, the young guys, it's going to be invaluable. And he's the centerpiece to that championship table that we are trying to build."
Davis is a future Hall of Famer and one of the best two-way players in basketball history, but durability has always been an issue. Hopefully, he'll be able to stay on the floor and help his team bounce back after one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.