The Los Angeles Lakers have managed to tread water without Anthony Davis in the lineup. Their most recent win was perhaps the most impressive of the 2022-23 season, beating the Miami Heat despite not having Davis or LeBron James. Multiple role players stepped up in big ways, including Thomas Bryant who scored 21 points with nine rebounds.
The Lakers weren’t expected to beat a full-strength Heat team, but Bryant said he and the rest of the team knew each person needed to step up with the stars out.
“We all knew everybody had to step up when we lose key guys like that, not in the lineup and then you see Troy [Brown Jr.] go down a little bit and not having Lonnie [Walker IV]. Everybody knew we had to step up and play together, talk, communicate and be the most competitive team out there.”
As far as Bryant goes, he’s thrived in a bigger role with Davis out and he discussed his mentality going into games.
“Really, it’s just filling in the roles, just filling the roles of what we need out there,” Bryant said. “We have some great, great guards out there that can shoot the ball, make plays out there. My job is to try and be as dominant as I can down there in the paint, whether it’s rebounding scoring or trying to make it difficult for the offense when we’re on defense out there.”
While Bryant previously admitted he doesn’t concern himself with filling Davis’ shoes, he’s certainly doing his best impression of the star big man. Bryant’s strong play as of late has been a welcomed development and hopefully something that continues even when Davis is healthy and back in the lineup.
In the last 10 games while Davis has been out, Bryant has averaged 15.5 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 64.4% from the field.
Darvin Ham on players settling into roles without Anthony Davis
After the initial adjustment of playing without Davis wore off, role players have looked much more comfortable on the floor. Head coach Darvin Ham attributed that to the improved play from multiple guys as a result of getting more game reps, with Bryant being at the top of the list.
“I just think different guys are settling into their roles, they’re getting more comfortable with more reps, more minutes,” Ham said. “You see Thomas Bryant just playing like a monster, giving us great minutes, giving us great presence in the paint. I wish, sometimes they switch off, teams like to switch, I wish we’d throw the ball to him a little more in the paint when he has those switches but even if he doesn’t get it, he’s rebounding the switch. He’s got a small on him so he attacks the offensive glass which is another way you can beat the switch.
“So it’s just different guys stepping up, it’s as simple as that… It’s gonna take a team effort and what that does is when we do get our big dogs back, whether it’s Bron or AD, both of them back, Lonnie as well, it just makes us that much stronger and deeper because now guys have confidence. They have the ultimate confidence because they’ve gotten the reps.”
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