Anthony Davis makes the Lakers automatic title contenders

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Jae C. Hong / AP Images

After months of speculation and rumors, Anthony Davis appears to be officially headed to the Los Angeles Lakers. Although we literally just got through an epic NBA playoff run, trade talks and free agency rumors lingered at the forefront. While most of us were conducting our routine summer Saturday activities, it was the perfect timing for the famous  “Woj bomb”:

Less than 48 hours removed from crowning the Toronto Raptors as the 2019 NBA champions, the Lakers made their way back to front page news. In an ironic linkage between the two franchises, the Lakers gave up what they needed to for a chance to compete with an undisputed top-10 talent. Winning is hard in the NBA, but getting elite talent is even harder.

In what could be considered a tumultuous throw-away season for Davis, he’s coming off of 25.9 points, 12 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. His defensive tenacity in the games he did play (56) were good enough to land him in the top 10 in blocks and steals per game. Though LeBron James has played with other perennial All-Stars, Davis may be the most complete one to date.

We were all well aware of the ramifications of the trade rumors throughout the season. A once-promising roster that had yet to peak got hit with the injury bug and became utterly inconsistent. A 34-year-old James had signed a 4-year deal with the intent to immediately be competitive, but this wasn’t the case.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA TODAY Sports

With such a short window to maximize what James has left, the Lakers were tasked with not only finding a compatible number two option but one who could take the reigns once James leaves the game for good. Enter Anthony Davis.

Davis is a six-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA, three-time block champion and three-time NBA All-Defensive player. Needless to say, he’s bringing to the table whatever James needs to be successful. If you’re the Lakers, you make this trade 10 times out of 10.

With the unknown surrounding Kawhi Leonard (free agency), Klay Thompson (free agency and injury) and Kevin Durant (free agency and injury), the path to an NBA championship in the 2019-20 season is wide open. The Western Conference now has a hobbled Warriors team and a bunch of unproven teams in the mix. Out East, assuming Leonard leaves the Raptors, the Bucks and Sixers appear to preliminarily be at the top. None of the aforementioned scenarios would worry James, who missed the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons.

With James and Davis leading the way, plus cap space, convincing other free agents to come aboard just got easier. If you ask fellow Basketball Society writer Justin Kirkland, the Lakers won’t need much more to contend:

Giving up multiple pieces to acquire one player will definitely put holes in the roster. However, the talent already there will make up for some of it. As we wait to see if the Lakers can add another All-Star to bolster the roster, keep an eye out for the role player signings. If they’re taking a page out of the Raptors’ playbook, they should also take notice of what Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, Danny Green, and Fred VanVleet did in The Finals. Stars are important. Role players are mandatory.

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