Anthony Davis has spent time at both center and power forward in his career, seemingly preferring the 4 given the wear and tear a player faces down on the block throughout the course of a season. But the Lakers may ask him to play more center this season.
"AD [starting] at the 5 is under heavy consideration," new head coach Darvin Ham told reporters on Monday.
Offensively, playing Davis at center makes perfect sense, giving the Lakers more floor-spacing with one fewer big man on the floor.
While Davis is a mediocre three-point shooter (30.3 percent for his career during the regular season), he's a willing shooter from deep and has shown flashes of being productive from beyond the arc, most notably shooting 38.3 percent from three in the team's run to a title during the 2019-20 bubble playoffs.
Having him at center allows LeBron James to play the 4 in a point-forward role and makes Russell Westbrook's own inadequacies as a shooter less impactful, since the Lakers could start any two of Dennis Schröder, Kendrick Nunn, Patrick Beverley, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Lonnie Walker IV on the wing.
None of those players are the next coming of Kyle Korver, of course. But it would still give the Lakers better floor spacing and optionality than having Davis at the 4 next to Damian Jones or Thomas Bryant at the 5.
The downside, of course, is the physical toll that comes with playing center. Davis has traditionally struggled with injuries throughout his career, playing in 70 or more games just twice in 10 seasons. Last year, he only played 40 games. The year before, 36.
Davis is an excellent shot-blocker (2.3 blocks per game in his career), but asking him to bang on the block with the likes of Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokić and Rudy Gobert, among others, will take its toll. Keeping him healthy is priority No. 1.
"None of this works if he's not available and he's not hitting on all cylinders," Ham told reporters last week regarding Davis. "He's a big piece. The biggest piece of our success."
It will be a balancing act for Ham and the Lakers, but Davis playing more 5 this season is certainly on the cards.