Prior to Game 4 between the Los Angeles Lakers series and the Houston Rocket, it was revealed head coach Frank Vogel decided to make a change to the starting lineup. JaVale McGee was replaced by Markieff Morris, which effectively slid Anthony Davis to the center position.
Much has been made this season of Davis’ desire to primarily play power forward, which led to both McGee and Dwight Howard getting a lot of minutes this season and only turning to Davis as the lone big in certain situations.
All season long many have pointed to Davis at the center position being the Lakers’ best lineup as it provides more floor spacing and versatility defensively. Davis has always maintained that once the playoffs begin he’s willing to play whatever position is necessary and he reiterated that point once again.
“It’s the playoffs, man. I don’t care where I play, to be honest. And they don’t really have a 5,” Davis noted after the lakers’ win in Game 4. “It’s more so in the season, it’s a long season. But playoffs, I just go out there and play no matter where coach puts me on the floor.
“I’m going to fight regardless. I want to win. The guys have enough confidence in me, coach has enough confidence in me, and I have enough confidence in myself to go out there and compete and do what I’ve got to do to help the team win.”
The luxury of having Anthony Davis is that it allows Vogel to turn to what is considered a “small-ball” lineup without really getting much shorter or sacrificing rebounding and rim protection.
Davis is one of, if not the best all-around defender in basketball. He still covers up many things for the Lakers defensively while dominating the glass. The Lakers’ small lineup still consists of 6’9 LeBron James and Morris in addition to Davis, along with a bigger wing in 6’6 Danny Green.
Offensively, playing the center position allows Davis to operate more freely in the post without McGee or Howard there. The Lakers’ spacing as a whole is much improved which benefits Davis, though he did not notice any difference in the looks he gets while playing center.
Davis was outstanding again in Game 4 with 29 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals as it is clear the Rockets have no answer for him.
Anthony Davis named to NBA’s All-Defensive First Team
Though he was passed over for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in favor of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, Davis was still one of the headliners for the All-Defensive First Team. Davis averaged 2.3 blocks and 1.5 steals while being the anchor of a Lakers defense that ranked third in defensive rating during the regular season.
Though he was the only one to make the All-Defensive team, Davis wasn’t the lone Lakers player to receive some votes. LeBron James garnered one First Team vote and five Second Team votes, while Avery Bradley received a Second Team vote.
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