LeBron James news: Minutes drama, AD struggles, refs didn't help

  • Aaron Gordon put LeBron on an opening night poster... but it shouldn't have counted
  • Charles Barkley rips AD after second-half disappearing act
  • LeBron unhappy with minutes restriction entering 21st season

LeBron James, Anthony Davis
LeBron James, Anthony Davis / Ethan Miller/GettyImages
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LeBron James news: Charles Barkley speaks harshly about Anthony Davis' struggles

Anthony Davis started the season strong with 17 points in the first half of Tuesday's opener. Then the second half arrived. Davis went scoreless in the third and fourth quarters, stymying any potential for a Lakers comeback. After the game, Davis received unsparing criticism from TNT analyst and Hall of Fame forward Charles Barkley.

"I said when he was in New Orleans [that] this guy is going to be the best basketball player in the world in the next five years. He’s not even mentioned anymore when you talk about the best players in the game. LeBron has said it publicly: It’s (Davis’s) team now. And you wonder when the light is going to kick on because he [doesn’t] have to play great every night, but you can’t go a whole half and not score."

It's hard to disagree with Chuck on this one. For as great and undeniable a talent Davis is, he too often falls victim to passivity. He was a dominant two-way force in the playoffs, but his inability to take over games offensively was a major roadblock in the Lakers' conference finals loss to Denver.

Consistency is the key for Davis. It's what separates him from elite No. 2 status and all-time great player status. He's probably going to make the Hall of Fame one day — he's already on the NBA 75th Anniversary squad — and Davis will forever have the Lakers' 2020 championship ring. He is, at worst, a top-15 or 20 player in the NBA, So, any criticism comes with the general understanding that he is far better than most. Still... Barkley is right. Too often, Davis pulls a disappearing act in critical moments. The Lakers' flawed offense cannot survive it.

Davis has never been a natural self-creator, which is part of what makes the conversation around his game different from other superstars. He can face up from the elbow or use his size as a wrecking ball in the post, but he's not innately inclined to shoot from the perimeter or seek out his own shot. He's much more comfortable stepping into assisted mid-range jumpers or dominating easy touches at the rim.

That is part of the equation here. Davis' reliance on teammates can lead to a general lack of forcefulness on his part. The Lakers would benefit from Davis striking a more balanced approach — he certainly can generate his own offense when he puts his mind to it — but time and time again, Davis goes quiet at inopportune times.