Upon officially acquiring Russell Westbrook, the questions from basketball fans and media worldwide began to pour in, all to the tune of “how is this going to work between the three stars?” The main issue was the Lakers’ three-headed monster’s lack of shooting. Given the recent shooting performances of the three, their concern was well-warranted.
Then, it was reported that James, Davis, and Westbrook got together to discuss their intended dynamics for the season-to-come. James and Davis won the NBA championship in 2020, serving as the catalysts for the Laker offense, and while adding Westbrook gives them more playmaking at the guard position, the three stars are not nearly as effective when playing off-the-ball.
“I expect to play center.”Anthony Davis
The main crux of the discussion between the three stars was about doing things they’re not particularly fond of, namely James playing the Power Forward and Davis playing the Center position. It is widely known that these two stars do not prefer to play at these positions. James likes to control the game’s tempo while Davis wants to play on the perimeter or post-up smaller defenders, which forces the Lakers to play a traditional center to appease Davis but leaves massive holes in the lineup from a shooting perspective. If Davis expects to play the five, he will be because that’s when the team is at its best.
Davis playing the five does not necessarily fix the shooting issues, given that Russel Westbrook will be their point guard. It does benefit them in pace and tempo because the one way to mitigate your lack of shooting in half-court sets is to play fast and attack the rim when the defense isn’t set. It seems that this is what the Lakers plan to do to start the season, with the additions of Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk bringing the youthful energy needed to help sustain a fast-paced offense for 48 minutes.
We can expect Dwight Howard to play a role similar to what he was assigned in Philadelphia last season. Fill in at center for some games, but Dwight will be the back-up big man to relieve Davis when he goes to the bench. AD playing the five also means that Carmelo Anthony could be returning to a starting role for the Lakers alongside Trevor Ariza, giving the Lakers some length and shooting on the perimeter.
This is precisely what training camp is for, to get a first look at what might work and what definitely will not. Davis at center was the secret weapon for the Lakers in the bubble, and it ultimately led to a championship, so AD committing to that role is a sign that he is ready to step out of his comfort zone to help the team win.