Since Anthony Davis joined the Los Angeles Lakers in 2019, they have never been more dominant on the court than when he is playing the center position. In the 2020 championship run, his time at center made the Lakers an unstoppable force.
However, due to injuries and roster makeup, the Lakers largely abandoned it in 2020-21. Having Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell and Andre Drummond made it impossible for L.A. to find center minutes for Davis without upsetting the other three, and due to the quick turnaround from the championship, he couldn’t seem to stay healthy regardless.
Now that Davis has had a real offseason to get back to full strength, the Lakers appear to be going all-in with Davis at the center position. “I expect to play center,” Davis said at Lakers Media Day. “I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen, me and Frank [Vogel] have talked about it a couple times and that’s the plan.
“Right now, nothing is set in stone, but we want to see what that looks like and I’m comfortable with that. Obviously, there will be times where Dwight [Howard] or [DeAndre Jordan] might get to start at center depending on games, but for the most part, I think the plan is to go with me playing center.”
A large part of this decision — and how it progresses throughout the season — hinges on Davis’ health. He expressed disappointment in his 2020-21 season and how he plans to improve upon it for this year. “You know, I’ve missed games in my career. But the Achilles, missing 30 [games], not being able at full strength in the playoffs against Phoenix, to play the Game 5, it didn’t sit well with me.
“So I made an emphasis on just taking care of my body and getting my body back to what it was — as far as strength-wise — during my first year here.”
After losing in the first round last season, Davis appears more ready than ever to get back into things and prove that the entire 2020-21 season was just a circumstantial fluke.
Playing the center is not only the best thing for his abilities, but it’s also by far the best thing for the roster. The addition of Russell Westbrook makes Davis at the five a necessity, as floor spacing becomes perhaps the biggest threat to the Lakers offensive success.
Now it’s time to see if the actions on the floor will match what Davis is saying now. Frank Vogel wouldn’t confirm that he’s starting at center but did reveal he will see a large amount of time there.
“He’s played center to the last two years. It’s just, what type of balance are we going to have? That’s still to be determined,” Vogel said. “I think the first year it was a near 50/50 balance of him playing alongside another big at the four and then him sliding to the five. Last year was more him playing the four with Marc and Drummond and Trezz getting a lot of those minutes in there. I think we’re going to return more to the first year as a balance. But he’ll play some four and some five.”
Rumored starting lineup revealed
As Davis said, nothing is set in stone. However, there are rumors circulating that the Lakers may have already figured out a first starting lineup.
According to reports, Davis, LeBron James and Westbrook could be taking the floor alongside Trevor Ariza and Wayne Ellington when the games kick off in mid-October.
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