The Los Angeles Lakers spent the offseason revamping their roster around the star talent. Anthony Davis sits at the centerfold of the Lakers’ game plan that will feature him playing more minutes at center. However, head coach Frank Vogel may be creating friction with the fan base due to what he may do with Davis.
Anthony Davis is willing to play more at center
In his brief time with the Lakers, Davis has become the team’s offensive focal point.
It’s become quite a noticeable trend that increased scoring prowess he has when he plays at center. He has played the position in spurts, especially in the playoffs. In the weeks before the 2021-22 season, the dialogue transitioned to him playing more minutes at the spot.
Meanwhile, the eight-time All-Star has embraced that notion by stating that he’s willing to play the position in an increased compacity.
“There was expectations and that was discussed, and I expect to play center,” Davis said at Lakers’ media day via The LA Times. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Me and Frank talked about it a couple of times and that’s the plan right now. Nothing is set in stone. But we want to see what that looks like. And I’m comfortable with that.”
With the regular season around the corner, head coach Frank Vogel recently aired some lingering concerns with the move.
Frank Vogel is considering a move with Anthony Davis that will anger Lakers fans
As the Lakers venture through training camp and the preseason before the 2021-22 camping, the team is preparing for another NBA title push.
One of which focuses on star big man Anthony Davis playing more minutes at the center position to utilize his offensive talent better. However, head coach Frank Vogel aired some concerns about the altered approach, voicing after Wednesday’s preseason action against the Phoenix Suns.
“Defensive size for one,” Vogel said via Lakers Nation. “In particular with Trevor [Ariza] not being in this early part of training camp and Melo being more of a hybrid four, we’re pretty small on the glass. We’re pretty small on the rim protection, so those are a couple negatives.
“And I think offensive rebounding support. Obviously, Anthony is getting a lot of the field-goal attempts, we’ve got to get perimeter passing. We’re going to play second-shot offense. We don’t want to just get five guys back every time and get one-shot offense every time down. I think those are the two biggest negatives.”
Davis playing at center pushes another player into working against a typically physically bigger opponent at the spot. It’s a sacrifice Los Angeles must become comfortable with as it allows Davis to capitalize against slower-footed centers players. At the same time, it opens the door for the Lakers to utilize another shooter to space the floor.
Ariza was initially anticipated to take on that role, but his recent surgery will keep him off the floor for the next eight weeks. That alone shifts Vogel’s game plan a bit for the immediate future, as it limits the roster flexibility in the frontcourt regarding smaller lineups. it may lead to playing either Dwight Howard or DeAndre Jordan next to Davis to get the traditional lineup.
Ultimately, the Lakers will have to take some of the lumps that come with the lineup change to take advantage of Davis playing center.
Lakers must embrace playing small-ball lineups
Vogel’s concerns are warranted, but the Lakers are exploring various methods to utilize their versatile roster.
Davis playing at center will be a crucial fixture, especially in sequences where he plays alongside Russell Westbrook. His skill set will allow for more lanes to the rim as he will pull opposing centers out of the paint.
However, there will be times where the Lakers will play the traditional frontcourt, using Jordan or Howard alongside Davis to protect the paint. The team excelled through their frontcourt length during their 2020 NBA title, with Howard and JaVale McGee paired with the 28-year-old.
Los Angeles holds several options, and Davis will sit at the forefront of the team’s push toward NBA title contention.