Anthony Davis Rumors: Lakers Star to Play Center More After Russell Westbrook Trade

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJuly 30, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) celebrates after scoring during the second half in Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns Thursday, May 27, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The reported addition of Russell Westbrook will lead the Los Angeles Lakers to play more small ball in 2021-22, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Buha reported the deal means big man Anthony Davis will play more minutes at center "to maximize the roster's spacing, shooting and transition attack."

Los Angeles cleared out much of its roster to complete the deal for Westbrook, sending Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a first-round pick to the Washington Wizards, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Regardless of who rounds out the roster, this team will be exciting. Westbrook, Davis and LeBron James will enter the year with 34 combined All-Star selections.

The question is how well they fit together, not only in who takes the most shots but also in how they create space on the floor.

James is the best outside shooter of the group, making 36.5 percent of his three-point shots last season, but he doesn't shoot often and only averaged 2.3 makes per game. Westbrook (30.5 career three-point percentage) and Davis (31.2 percent) don't provide much from beyond the arc.

L.A. will likely have to add more shooters around them, both a shooting guard and a stretch-4. Keeping Davis at power forward could create a logjam down low, especially with traditional centers like Andre Drummond or Harrell from last year or JaVale McGee from two years ago.

Marc Gasol is set to return and can stretch the floor from center, but he is no longer much of an offensive threat after averaging 5.0 points per game last season. 

Putting Davis at center would create more opportunities for the rotation, although it would be a major change after he played the spot just 10 percent of the time in 2020-21, per Basketball Reference. The position switch could also mean a greater concern for injury after the 28-year-old was limited to 26 games last season.

According to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times, Westbrook, James and Davis have already discussed playing together and are willing to adjust positions to make it work. James would play more power forward, while Davis would play center.

The players will hope this helps the Lakers return to title contention after they lost in the first round of the playoffs last season.