The Los Angeles Lakers signed DeMarcus Cousins with their leftover cap space after they were spurned by free-agent target Kawhi Leonard this summer, and that addition was likely inspired at least partly by Anthony Davis' positional preference.
"I like playing the 4. I'm not even going to sugarcoat it. I like playing the 4," Davis told Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times, describing his desire to play power forward rather than center. "I don't really like playing the 5."
Davis did express a willingness to play center if necessary.
"If it comes down to it, coach, and you need me to play the 5, then I'll play the 5," he said to head coach Frank Vogel during his introductory press conference Saturday.
The organization seems to be aligned with Davis' desire to play power forward, however.
"We want a decade of dominance out of him here, right?" general manager Rob Pelinka said. "So we've got to do what's best for his body, and having him bang against the biggest centers in the West every night is not what's best for his body or for our team and the franchise."
A lot of that banging down low will be reserved for Cousins and JaVale McGee, though when the Lakers go small, the option to play Davis at the 5 will give them excellent floor spacing. And with LeBron James serving as the team's point guard—the role on offense he's basically played his entire career anyway—that level of spacing is all the more important, giving James the space to attack the basket or kick the ball out to open shooters.
Spreading the floor will be far more difficult to accomplish when Davis is playing the 4 and Cousins or McGee is playing the 5. While Cousins has shown an ability to hit three-pointers in the past, he shot just 27.4 percent from beyond the arc last year and is a career 33.2 percent three-point shooter. Add in two injury-plagued seasons, and it's hard to forecast just what the Lakers will get from Cousins this coming season.
That Davis and Cousins were previously paired on the New Orleans Pelicans at least means playing together again won't involve a difficult adjustment period. The transition will be more about incorporating an almost completely overhauled roster with James in Los Angeles.
In a perfect world, the Lakers could rely on Davis at the 5, utilize James as a point-4 and put three shooters around them. But given Davis' positional preference and the roster as currently constructed, they'll have to make do.
Of course, with two superstars to build around in James and Davis, the Lakers won't mind solving that puzzle.