The Los Angeles Lakers trade for Anthony Davis firmly cemented them in the championship discussion with all the other two All-Star player tandems around the league, but it’s completely fair to argue that he and LeBron James are at the top of that list due to their positional fit together on the court.
Davis, who is likely the most skilled big man in the league, was asked to play a decent amount of center in his last season with the New Orleans Pelicans once Julius Randle came in to replace DeMarcus Cousins. However, both Davis and the Lakers brass seem to know that will be a rare occurrence.
When asked about his position at his introductory press conference, Davis was candidly honest about what position he prefers to play. However, he said he’ll do what head coach Frank Vogel asks of him, even if that means playing some center.
“I like playing the four, I’m not even going to sugarcoat it. I don’t really like playing the five. If it comes down to it, coach, and you need me to play the five, I’ll play the five,” Davis said. “Actually, the game has become so positionless. You can put five guys on the floor and they just play. Like LJ running the point, he’s a super tall point guard. It really doesn’t matter. You just put five guys out there that fit best with each other.”
With the positionless style of basketball being played now, it’s possible Davis will seamlessly switch between the two big men spots, but general manager Rob Pelinka knows what’s best for his body long term and will likely use their other big men to guard elite centers down low.
“When Anthony and I first started talking about the roster, he did say, ‘Hey, I would love to have some fives that can bang with some length.’ He’s 26, we want a decade of dominance out of him, so we’ve got to do what’s best for his body,” Pelinka said. “Having him bang against the biggest centers in the West every night is not what’s best for his body or our team or the franchise. That’s why we were so excited when we got commitments from JaVale McGee. Just with his size and length, and [Davis] playing at the four, that length is extraordinary.”
Pelinka also talked about the importance of the Cousins signing.
“And then DeMarcus making a commitment to come here, he complemented and played so well with A.D. in New Orleans. You can just tell he’s made a commitment to his body and having a huge year. We wanted to make sure to honor what Anthony asked for when we traded for him, and that was to get some fives he could play with.”
It seems that everyone in the room for perhaps the first time in a while is on the same page both on and off the court. Pelinka and Vogel seem to understand what’s best for this team and answers like the one Pelinka gave offer just as much hope for the future as having Davis and James on the roster.