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Would Anthony Davis Benefit as Lakers' PF amid Thomas Bryant Contract Rumors?

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured Columnist IJuly 6, 2022

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

LeBron James is about the enter his 20th year in the NBA and by all accounts, it looks as if he'll almost be as spry as he was during his second season in the league.

But looking ahead, the Los Angeles Lakers will only go as far as their other superstar, Anthony Davis, can take them.

With that in mind, the Lakers are focused on making moves that will set him up for success next season.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, free agent Thomas Bryant has agreed to a one-year deal to return to the team that gave him his first contract as a rookie.

Haynes also reported that Bryant will be given an opportunity to win the starting center position.

Ideally, that could free up Davis to play his favorite position: power forward.

"I like playing the four, I’m not even going to sugarcoat it," Davis said during his introductory press conference back in 2019. "I don’t really like playing the five."

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka then agreed that the best scenario for Davis was playing stretch four.

At the four, Davis can play with more fluidity and his body wouldn't have to endure the banging down low for position on the low block.

It would also help him avoid the injuries that have kept him off the floor, especially last season.

"When Anthony and I first started talking about the roster, he did say, ‘Hey, I would love to have some fives that can bang with some length.’ He’s 26, we want a decade of dominance out of him, so we’ve got to do what’s best for his body," Pelinka added.

"Having him bang against the biggest centers in the West every night is not what’s best for his body or our team or the franchise. Just with his size and length, and [Davis] playing at the four, that length is extraordinary."

While Davis' numbers are better when he plays the center position (27.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.3 blocks per StatMuse) versus when he takes the court as a power forward (22.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.3 blocks per StatMuse), the most important thing is keeping him on the court, especially to close out the game.

Bryant, if he's up to it, can fill in that center spot to allow Davis the freedom to pop out to the perimeter on offense and defense.

For his career, the Indiana product has averaged 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds.

He's also shooting 59 percent from the field and 37 percent from three, making him the kind of efficient big the Lakers need alongside Davis and James who also won't sacrifice spacing on the floor.

Right now, Bryant has to compete against Damian Jones for the starting 5 position, but if he's fully recovered from the torn ACL he suffered during the 2020-21 season, there's no reason why he can't get it done.

Pelinka is still making moves to improve the Lakers roster, but the signing of Bryant sheds light on the team's plans for Davis.

Now, it'll be up to the eight-time All Star to stay healthy, available and dominant.

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