It’s safe practice not to read too much into offseason workouts. Whether it’s a conveniently edited video of a pick-up game or a still photo of turgid biceps lifting what looks like a metric ton, NBA players like to let their fans know how hard they’ve been working over the offseason. The social media posts tend to get people talking during the slow summer news cycle, but we never know whether the activity will translate to the court until we see them in action.
That being said, it’s certainly noticeable when a player’s own coach comments about a physical transformation. In a recent appearance on Spectrum SportsNets’ “Lakeshow” podcast, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel absolutely raved about the physique of All-Star big man Anthony Davis.
“He put a lot of work this offseason into his body. A lot of work,” Vogel said. “And we had a moment, maybe two weeks ago, where he had been training at home, and we had a conversation about, ‘these are some of the concerns we have with our team, we think we’re good here, we think we’re good there,’ and then he comes in for a workout, and it was the first time we had kind of seen him for a while, and his body looked imposing. And we all just looked at each other like, ‘We’re gonna be really good this year.’ Just looking at that guy right there, we’re gonna be really good this year.”
While Davis has been the rare NBA player to stay quiet on social media about his summer gains, photos have surfaced showing a broad-shouldered Davis with what looks like a more filled-out upper body.
If Davis really has added significant strength, that’s relevant to the Lakers — and the landscape of the NBA — for a couple of reasons. First, it’s no secret that Davis has missed large chunks of games at times during his career due to nagging injuries, even earning the nickname, “Street Clothes,” from Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley. If improving his body physically leads to fewer injuries for Davis, it ensures that the Lakers will remain a viable title contender.
Second, the addition of Russell Westbrook will make it difficult for the Lakers to play a traditional big man alongside Davis, which means that he will likely have to play more center — something he has been reluctant to do on a full-time basis over the course of his career. Perhaps the added strength and weight will make him more comfortable banging around inside at the five, allowing Vogel to play more shooting-heavy, defensively versatile lineups with Westbrook, Davis, LeBron James and two shooters on the court together. Our Brad Botkin explained why Davis is the key to the Lakers’ offseason moves, and part of that could involve him playing a lot of center.
Whether Vogel’s description is exaggerated or not, it’s good news for the Lakers that Davis appears healthy and in excellent shape for the upcoming season. After a disappointing first-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Suns and an offseason roster overhaul, the Lakers are one of the favorites to regain the championship trophy, and they’ll be even more dangerous is Davis can raise his game to yet another level due to increased strength and durability.