After the successful acquisition of All-Star center Anthony Davis and other quality veterans last summer, the Los Angeles Lakers have managed to turn themselves from one of the worst NBA teams in the league to a legitimate title contender in the deep Western Conference. As of now, the Lakers continue to live up to expectations, sitting in the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference with a 49-14 record. At the age of 35, Lakers superstar LeBron James is still playing at a high level and is currently one of the frontrunners to win the 2020 Most Valuable Player award.
However, according to retired NBA player and Inside the NBA analyst Charles Barkley, the Lakers’ fate in the 2019-20 NBA season doesn’t depend on James but on Davis. In a recent appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd, which is currently posted on YouTube, Barkley said that Davis would be the Lakers’ “key” to fully dominating the Western Conference and winning the 2020 NBA championship title.
“The key [for winning or losing championship] is gonna be Anthony Davis. LeBron is gonna do his thing. The key to me is Anthony Davis,” Barkley said, as quoted by TalkBasket.net.
When asked for further explanation, Barkley started talking about the potential matchup between the Lakers and the Western Conference No. 2 seed Los Angeles Clippers in the 2020 NBA Playoffs. While the Clippers have Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to guard James, Barkley said they don’t have anyone on their roster who could defend Davis.
“The Clippers don’t have a match up for him, but they have two match ups for LeBron – Paul George and Kawhi,” Barkley said.
“They [The Clippers] don’t have anybody to guard Anthony Davis. If the Lakers will win the championship it will be because of Anthony Davis.”
There may be lots of formidable teams in the Eastern Conference like the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Milwaukee Bucks but before thinking about the 2020 NBA Finals, the Lakers should first worry about conquering the Western Conference. While other powerhouse teams couldn’t be underestimated, most people believe that the Clippers are considered as the major blockade on the Lakers’ road back to title contention. This is why Barkley viewed Davis as the Lakers’ “key” to capturing the Larry O’Brien Trophy this season.
Though the Clippers have Ivica Zubac, Montrezl Harrell, and Joakim Noah playing at the center position, none of them could efficiently guard Davis. Harrell may be an incredible defender but being an undersized center, Davis could easily take advantage of him when they meet each other under the basket. While the NBA is on a hiatus, Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers and his staff must be starting to think of a strategy to limit Davis’ production when they face the Lakers in the 2020 NBA Playoffs.