In the eyes of many, big man Anthony Davis is the key to the potential success of the Los Angeles Lakers this season. In addition to just being healthy, Darvin Ham is supposedly planning on running the offense through him, and Davis had a strong showing in the Lakers’ first preseason game.
Heading into the second preseason contest, Davis was set to start at center as Ham experimented with different lineup combinations. Though he was a late scratch, Davis will undoubtedly see plenty of minutes at the center position this year and Ham isn’t too concerned with that taking a tole on his body.
“You don’t have to see the Shaqs anymore, the Patrick Ewings, those big, beefy guys that you have to wrestle with,” Ham noted prior to the Lakers’ second preseason game. “Rules were a lot different back in the day, it was more isolation basketball. Now, and I think we’ve taken huge steps in this direction, it’s basically having yourself be the best version of yourself physically and being available first and foremost as opposed to worrying about bumps and bruises whether you’re playing the 4 or 5.”
“I think the way you see the league trending now, even the big, muscular, heavy guys are still playing a perimeter-type game. Embiid, Jokic, Nurkic, they go down on the block sometimes but for the most part, they’re out initiating pick-and-rolls and picking-and-popping, going to play side-to-side basketball, playing DHO basketball, being more facilitators from the perimeter from the elbow. So the key for AD is about the baseline fact of him being available and getting stronger as the season goes along, getting in better shape as we go by day after day. So it’s not so much about the banging and bruising, some of our best lineups are gonna entail him being at the 5.”
Davis is one of the rare breed of big men who has both the physical makeup and skillset to play both in the post as well as the perimeter. Getting him back to his dominant form will make the Lakers a tougher matchup overall.
And while much of the focus on Davis at center for the Lakers is on offense, Ham believes it helps the Lakers defensively as well. “I think it’s a little bit defensive-oriented as well, having guys on the floor that can guard multiple positions from at least 1-3 each and some small 4s and obviously centers that AD can guard,” Ham added. “Same with LeBron can guard 1-5, Pat can guard 1-4, same for Austin, all of those guys, Russ, they can guard at least three positions.
“So it’s a defensive mechanism, a defensive mentality to those type of lineups too as well as offensive with all of those guys being able to space and create room so that Russ has driving lanes, LeBron has driving lanes, AD can be comfortable in the post and if someone decides to crowd or double-team him, we have guys on the backside that can not only knock down a shot, but make a play off the dribble.”
Having the ability to switch is a huge component of many of the NBA’s best defenses and Ham believes he has the pieces to apply that with these Lakers. Davis at center surely makes that possibility much more feasible, but having guards able to guard bigger players helps in a big way as well.
Davis remains one of the most talented players in the NBA and Ham plans on employing him in every way to get the most out of him on both ends of the floor. That, in turn, should make the Lakers a much better team.
Davis explains improved shooting Lakers preseason opener
One of the biggest keys to Davis being at his best is improving his perimeter shooting which was on display in the Lakers’ preseason opener. In discussing it after the contest, Davis spoke to getting his injured wrist back healthy in the offseason and going from there.
“I was just trying to get the wrist back to where it is. So it included some of that but that’s all it was,” the forward said. “It was just getting back completely healthy and getting back to training, kind of include that and get that formation back down and get those reps so the muscle memory will get back to where it was.”