Making up for the absence of a star like Anthony Davis is never easy, especially when he was playing at an MVP level for the Los Angeles Lakers before injuring his foot.
The Lakers have managed to find their way though, winning five straight games in Davis’ absence to get back in the postseason picture.
A big reason for that has been the play of Thomas Bryant, who has filled in for Davis as the Lakers’ starting center. In 13 games since Davis went down, Bryant has averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds while shooting 68.1% from the field and 55% from 3-point range.
Bryant is playing the best basketball of his career, and even teammates like LeBron James have taken notice. After Saturday night’s win over the Sacramento Kings, James gave high praise to Bryant for his recent play, even saying he has had visions of what a frontcourt of the two of them and Davis can do together, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Thomas has definitely taken full advantage of his opportunity and it’s just a guy that plays extremely hard, knows how to play and probably one of the most skilled bigs in this game. He catches everything, he finishes everything around the rim but he also has a soft touch from the midrange and also the 3-point line. And he just has a motor. He has a huge motor that’s always going on both sides of the floor. So I’ve always worked well with guys like that, guys that are just always putting themselves in a position. The trust that he has with me, with Russ, we’re always looking for him, especially when he has mismatches down there and he’s sealing in the paint. I’ve already had kind of visions of what that could possibly look like with a frontcourt of myself, AD and Thomas on the floor together. I think it can be extremely beneficial for our ballclub but also at the same time just staying in the moment and we’re just trying to hold it down until our big guy comes back. Thomas has definitely done his part and we’re all trying to chip in.”
The Lakers have gone big with another center next to Davis and James in past years although that has not been the case this season with the former playing a majority of his minutes at center.
With Bryant’s recent emergence though, it will be interesting to see if Darvin Ham plays him more with the Lakers’ stars when Davis is able to return.
Bryant’s ability to stretch the floor makes him an ideal fit next to James and Davis while also helping the Lakers maintain a size advantage, which will help especially on the defensive glass.
Davis’ rehab still going ‘according to plan’
While there is still no official timetable on Davis’ return, he definitely seems to be making progress. After the team returned to L.A. after their recent road trip, Davis got another MRI on his foot and the latest update is still that his rehab is going ‘according to plan.’
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