He only played one half, but Anthony Davis just kept pulling tricks out of his bag in his first game with the purple and gold.
Davis dominated the Lakers’ preseason opener from start to finish, hitting his team’s first bucket and never relenting. In just 18 minutes of action, Davis piled up 22 points and 10 rebounds while showing many of the skills that make him such a unique talent.
“He’s such a versatile threat offensively,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “He can beat you with step-back jumpers, 3-point shots, drives from the perimeter — but he’s also one of the best rim-finishers in the game. … He can get to the rim himself and he’s also a terrific lob threat and finisher inside.”
Davis lived at the hoop in the Lakers’ 123-101 rout over Golden State, throwing down five dunks in the first quarter alone — including three in a row at one point.
The first-year Laker — who ranked second in the NBA in second-chance points last season — was uncontainable on the boards, battling for four put-back buckets.
“I was just trying to attack the offensive glass,” Davis said. “Just trying to be aggressive, get myself going. I haven’t played in awhile, so I was just trying to do the little things and the ball just kinda ended up in my hands. So I just tried to get up and dunk it and get myself going.”
And while Davis clearly didn’t lack for physicality, LeBron James — who had 15 points and eight assists in one half — was quick to point out his mind, calling AD a “very cerebral player.” The duo connect on a few plays, including when James hit Davis with a pocket pass for a dunk.
“That’s tough to cover,” Davis said. “You got a guy like him going downhill and a guy like me who’s rolling who’s a lob threat — you’ve got to pick your poison.”
Davis drew rave reviews throughout the Lakers’ locker room, including from a mind-blown Kyle Kuzma. Vogel was also among the chorus singing AD’s praises, calling him “a beast of a scorer” among other names.
“He’s a monster,” Vogel said. “It’s going to be very difficult to slow him down with what we have around him. I’m excited about what he’s going to do, and Lakers fans should be too.”
Davis certainly offered plenty to get excited about, with a one-game highlight tape that included a spin move into an alley-oop and a between-the-legs crossover into a circus, and-1 jumper.
But above all else, Davis — who hadn’t played in an NBA arena in seven months — was simply pleased with getting to hit the court.
“I was ready to get back on the floor again,” Davis said. “I haven’t played in a while, so I was just happy to get back on the floor and just play basketball.”