This week, yes, while the NBA Finals were ongoing, Anthony Davis made headlines for declaring in a video produced by his new gamer friends at the Nuke Squad that he hasn’t shot a basketball since April 5th. And as expected, the news did numbers, garnering takes from the Steven A. Smiths of the world and even LeBron James, himself.
But if there’s one person who seems to have Davis’ back in the midst of all the backlash the superstar received in the past week, it’s no other than his new head coach Darvin Ham. Ham, who can relate firsthand to the job that is being a professional athlete, defended Davis recently in an interview on The Rich Eisen Show. Ham claimed that it’s normal for a professional basketball player not to pick up a basketball for two months, especially if they have dealt with the number of physical illnesses Davis has over the past two seasons.
“I feel the exact opposite. Being a guy who played eight years in the league and had deep playoff runs with teams, there’s that time at the end of the year that you have to take care of your body. All that pounding, the jumping, the running, especially when you’ve dealt with an array of injuries like Anthony has, you have to take time for your body, focus on your body and that’s what he’s doing. Picking up a basketball, that usually happens in the middle of summer. You may do some spot shooting or whatever but in terms of the pounding and the hard workouts and the grueling workouts on the court, that’s usually pushed back toward the middle of the summer. That’s just a general NBA player’s principle just to get that time to get your body back feeling well, to get your body stronger in different areas, to strengthen your mobility or agility. The court will come later. You have to have a functional body in order to be able to improve your game on the court.”
Ham, who also said that he expects Davis to be the key for the Lakers this season, mentioned in the same interview that he has broken bread with his superstar and is on the same page as him. Remember, Ham claimed in his introductory press conference that his goal is to get Davis in the right place physically and mentally, and according to the first-time head coach, Davis has been focused on doing just that in the offseason.
“I think he has his priorities in order. I don’t put too much weight on the firestorm that went on with that comment being made. I know he’s a good place mentally. I know he’s in a good place physically. I just saw him, had dinner with him last night and it was a great, great dinner. It almost lasted three hours, just he and I. Going over some stuff, watching a little film, having a great meal and he’s in a great place and I’m totally comfortable with his process.”
The pressure is on Davis, who is coming off of two subpar seasons by his own standards, to bounce back this year and reclaim his place as one of the league’s elite players this coming season. The Lakers, via Ham, have openly stated that Davis’ success this season is an organizational priority. The question is, will Davis prioritize the Lakers as they have him?
We obviously don’t know the specifics on how AD plans to attack this particular offseason, besides his well-documented offseason routine of years past, and the casual videos and pictures we see on social media. But, for those too scarred by AD’s injury luck to trust his work, need only listen to Ham to know their franchise’s “key” is right on track — at least for now. We’ll know in a few months, based on AD’s performance and conditioning coming into camp, if Ham’s words are indeed true.