The Los Angeles Lakers brought in young, athletic centers Thomas Bryant and Damian Jones this offseason, seemingly moving away from small-ball. But with the preseason coming to an end, it appears Anthony Davis will begin the 2022-23 season as L.A.’s starting big man.
The Lakers came out with Davis at the 5 in the last two preseason games. They would have done so against the Phoenix Suns last week as well, but Wenyen Gabriel replaced the eight-time All-Star in the starting lineup due to the latter’s minor back issue.
And it looks like the move serves Davis well. The 29-year-old forward is averaging 23.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists over the last two games — in addition to 1.0 steals and 1.5 blocks. After the 118-113 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, Davis was asked if he is willing to play center full-time if that’s what Darvin Ham asks of him.
“At this point … It is what it is,” he said. “We’re trying to win basketball games. And if that’s the best situation for us to win basketball games, then that’s what we’ll look at.
“Me and the Coach having a conversation about four or five, like a couple of conversations during practice and things like that, but I think he’s still trying to figure out the rotations as well. And right now, it’s looking… it looks good when I’m at the five. And the defensive coverages that we’re in.
“Whether I’m at the four or the five is not too taxing.”
Davis pointed out the Lakers need to have a functioning small-ball lineup in today’s NBA where most big men need to operate in the paint as well as around the perimeter.
“Nowadays, too, I mean, you think about Joel Embiid and all these bigger guys, maybe besides Steven Adams, these guys are on the perimeter,” he said. “That’s really it.
“And like I say, if I had to play to five, then it’s totally fine. I don’t care if the way our defense is set up — you know, we all help each other, and that’s what it is, whether it’s myself at the five, or me on the wing, and we got a mismatch on the wing with a guard. … You know, a gang rebound and all these things.”
However, Davis didn’t forget to mention that he feels most comfortable playing at the 4.
“At the end of the day, I trust the coach’s decision,” he said. “I mean, I’m sure pretty sure he heard AD wants to play the 4, so you know where I stand. But at the end of the day, I want to win, so if that’s me playing the five then fine.”
LeBron James outlines goals for last preseason game
The Lakers will have one last chance to improve their preseason record — currently standing at 1-4 — when they take on the Sacramento Kings on Friday.
LeBron James said the Purple and Gold will keep working on their habits in the preseason-ending matchup, adding he can see the progress L.A. has made so far.
“Continue to work on our system that Coach Ham and the coaches put together or implemented since the first day of training camp,” James said of the team’s goals for Friday. “I think we have some really good moments at times.”
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