Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard both entered the league via the 2012 Draft and have asserted themselves as two of the best players in the NBA. Anthony Davis is an 8-time All-Star and 4-time All-NBA Team performer who holds career averages of 23.9 PPG and 10.2 RPG. As both a superstar for the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers, Davis has been arguably the best big man in the NBA.
Of course, Davis captured the 2020 NBA championship for the Lakers alongside LeBron James. Meanwhile, Damian Lillard has blossomed into a top-2 point guard in the NBA. After Stephen Curry, it is clear Lillard is the most impactful point guard in the game. Lillard has made 6 All-Star Teams and 5 All-NBA Teams while carrying the Portland Trail Blazers on his back every single season.
The Lakers and Trail Blazers were defeated in the first round of the playoffs and big changes are expected to be made on both rosters. Lillard clearly doesn't have any help and is being linked with a move to Los Angeles. For the Lakers, acquiring Lillard could get their best bet at winning another title and also finding their long-term solution. But should the Lakers change the entire landscape of the NBA and trade Anthony Davis for Damian Lillard? Here are the pros and cons of this mega-deal.
The Cons Of Trading Anthony Davis For Damian Lillard
Anthony Davis Is 3 Years Younger
The first con of trading Anthony Davis for Damian Lillard is losing 3 years off a superstar player's career. Davis is only 28 years of age and already has 8 All-Star Teams under his belt. Since he completed his teenage years, he has been a franchise star in the league.
Meanwhile, Damian Lillard is 31 years of age and possibly has a handful of years left as a superstar player. The Lakers have a chance at having a top-10 player in the game for 3 extra years after LeBron James retires, something they must consider if they try to win now with Damian Lillard on the roster.
Anthony Davis Is Better Defender Than Damian Lillard
There is no denying that Anthony Davis is a better defensive player than Damian Lillard. Davis has career averages of 2.3 BPG and 1.4 SPG, along with leading the NBA in blocks 3 separate times. Most importantly, Davis has made 4 All-Defensive Teams over his career and can defend both the perimeter and the paint. Simply put, Anthony Davis is a superstar two-way player.
Damian Lillard is a superstar on offense but can be a liability on defense. He doesn't possess natural instincts on the defensive end and that is why he hasn't made an All-NBA Team once in his career. Lillard holds career averages of 1.0 SPG and 0.3 BPG as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. It is clear Lillard will never be as dominant defensively as Anthony Davis.
Anthony Davis Already Won A Championship With The Lakers
Anthony Davis has something that Damian Lillard does not have: an NBA championship. Davis has valuable championship experience under the bright lights even though the arenas were without fans last year. Davis got the job done, consistently performed in the playoffs and etched his name in Lakers lore.
Damian Lillard has yet to reach an NBA Finals, as the furthest he reached was the Western Conference Finals. Lillard does not have a superteam as Anthony Davis has in Los Angeles with LeBron James, but we do not know if the point guard can perform in the Finals or not. We have already seen how Anthony Davis can be dominant in the postseason so the Lakers don't have a reason to trade him in that regard.
Anthony Davis Is A Better Fit With LeBron James
Anthony Davis was a blessing for the career of LeBron James. After carrying the Cleveland Cavaliers without Kyrie Irving for years, LeBron decided to join a Lakers franchise basking in mediocrity ever since the retirement of legend Kobe Bryant. All it took was a trade for Anthony Davis to help LeBron carry the Lakers to the Finals and win it all last year.
Davis can lead the Lakers in scoring, rebounds, and blocks with ease and his play on both ends greatly allowed LeBron to be the primary playmaker for the Lakers. Davis can do it all, especially on defense, meaning LeBron doesn't have a massive load to carry anymore. Lillard can cover the scoring part, but his miniature size and lack of defense make him a worse fit with LeBron.
Anthony Davis Can Dominate With Size And Skill
Anthony Davis has a ton of skill and his hard work is the reason he is a monster on offense. He shoots a career 51.4% from the field, 31.2% from three, and 79.9% from the free-throw line. But when his shot isn't falling, Davis has the blessing of being dominant through sheer size. The Lakers were a force last year because Davis and LeBron were bigger and better than their opponents, something Damian Lillard can't compete with.
Lillard is more skilled as a guard player with incredible handles and shooting mechanics, but he can't dominate purely through size when his shot isn't falling. Davis will always be close to 7-feet tall so just his presence is enough to make LeBron and the Lakers more deadly. Trading a big man for a 6'2" point guard would be a massive gamble for the Lakers.
The Pros Of Trading Anthony Davis For Damian Lillard
Anthony Davis Is Very Injury-Prone
Anthony Davis missed a total of 36 games this season and he was never the same when he returned to the postseason. He looked hobbled from the start, and he has countless nagging injuries that remain questionable. In 9 NBA seasons, a superstar like Anthony Davis has yet to play 82 games. That is shocking, especially when Davis has played over 70 games 2 times in his career.
Meanwhile, Damian Lillard has played 82 games 3 separate times and has played over 70 games 7 times in 9 years. Lillard is clearly less injury-prone than Davis because it is only a matter of time before the big man gets himself another injury. For the Lakers, title hopes next season and in the future, they need a healthy superstar and Lillard could be the answer over Davis.
Damian Lillard Wants To Win The Championship
In terms of winning an NBA championship, there probably isn't a player hungrier than Damian Lillard right now. He has only made a Western Conference Finals, and at 31 years of age, he is in his prime to get the job done. Lillard is most likely very aware of stars such as Allen Iverson and John Stockton who never got the job done, and that affects their legacies.
Lillard knows he is a Hall of Famer and one of the best players in Trail Blazers history, but an NBA Finals berth eludes him. That means the Lakers can trade an injury-prone big man for a superstar point guard who has an obsession with being a winner in the playoffs. That kind of drive could be enough for the Lakers to win the chip next year.
Damian Lillard Can Carry The Lakers After LeBron James
Anthony Davis is younger at 28 years old, but his questionable injury history and track record as a winner makes it doubtful that he can be the man going forward. Davis has missed a tremendous amount of games throughout his career, but even when healthy, he never made an impact for the New Orleans Pelicans in the postseason. With the Pelicans, he never came close to a Western Conference Finals as Lillard did.
Damian Lillard has proven he can carry a franchise on his back every night and be a consistent playoff performer. Lillard has led the Trail Blazers to the playoffs the past 8 seasons, playing 61 games and averaging 25.7 PPG and 6.2 APG. Davis only made the playoffs twice with the Pelicans and has only played a total of 39 games. If it wasn't for LeBron James, Davis doesn't have the playoff appearances he has right now.
Lillard Is A Marksman, Something The Lakers Crave
After Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, the man most likely to win games alone with his shooting is Damian Lillard. Lillard shot 39.1% from three this season and holds a career average of 37.5% over his career. He is also money from the stripe, nailing 92.8% of his foul shots this year. When playing with LeBron James, this kind of shooting is absolutely necessary.
The NBA is a shooter's game and the Lakers have a chance to surround the best available shooter with LeBron James. LeBron often doesn't take the biggest shots with his jumper, so having a star like Damian Lillard to nail perimeter shots in big moments could be the missing recipe. The Lakers shooters are very streaky, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma are not the answers.
Damian Lillard Will Soon Be The Best Guard In The NBA, Anthony Davis Has Competition
Stephen Curry is 33 years old and will not be the face of the point guard position for much longer. Ja Morant still has a few years to reach superstar level, and Trae Young doesn't have the size and athleticism of the best guards in the NBA. Of course, many question if Kyrie Irving's heart is in the game anymore. That means Damian Lillard will hold the throne as the best point guard in the NBA in due time, and possibly the best guard.
He is capable of winning games through his offense alone, and without competition at his position, Lillard can be extremely dominant for the Lakers. Anthony Davis has plenty of competition at his position including Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo so the Lakers might not always have the best player per position. Next season, the Lakers can have that with Lillard and LeBron James.