The Case For And Against Lakers Star Anthony Davis Playing Alongside Another Big Man

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anthony davis

The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to turn a new leaf after a rough 2021-22 season in which they missed the playoffs. The Lakers’ brain trust made a ton of changes this offseason, not only to the roster, but also to the coaching staff with Darvin Ham leading the way.

Early in camp, it’s clear that the players are buying into what Ham is preaching, which will be important with a roster full of guys expecting to get significant playing time.

One of the biggest questions surrounding Ham when it comes to lineups is whether Anthony Davis should start at power forward or center. So with that being the case, let’s examine which option would be better for the Lakers this season.

Anthony Davis at power forward

This is the most likely option for L.A. as Davis has been hesitant to the idea of being a full-time center in the past. While Ham recently stated that he doesn’t believe playing center takes an extra toll on Davis’ body, it’s no secret that he has a checkered past when it comes to injuries and could benefit from guarding some smaller guys in the regular season.

If the Lakers go with Davis starting at power forward, they would likely start either Damian Jones or Thomas Bryant at center.

The pros of this are that the Lakers would be better defensively on the interior and better on the defensive glass. On offense though, there would be less spacing and driving lanes could be clogged up for Davis, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.

They would have a legit lob threat on the floor though, which is part of what made the Lakers successful during their 2019-20 championship season with JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard.

Anthony Davis at center

The last couple of years, some of the Lakers’ best lineups have come with Davis at center and the reason for that is basically the opposite of the reasons listed above.

Some downsides to these lineups are interior defense, rim protection and rebounding. Guys like James, Westbrook and Patrick Beverley would really need to make a concerted effort to box out and crash the glass.

On the perimeter though with three guards, the Lakers would be able to do a lot more switching defensively. Davis has shown he can guard out on the perimeter, as has James when needed.

Additionally, they would theoretically have more spacing in the lineup depending on which guards Ham would go with. That would allow Davis to operate in the paint offensively where he has thrived as opposed to being perimeter-oriented. Davis has expressed confidence that his jump shot will rebound, but he shot just 18.6% from 3 last season so that’s not something L.A. can depend on.


As Ham stated before Thursday night’s preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, he expects to experiment with different lineups throughout the season based on matchups. And I know this isn’t the sexy answer, but I think that’s the right decision.

There will be games where I feel the Lakers should go big when the opposing team has a dominant center like the Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers and Timberwolves. But then there will be matchups like the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors where they go small, and the Lakers should match with Davis at center to get more speed and switchability on the perimeter.

Who starts isn’t nearly as important as who closes though, and my expectation is that Davis will be at center to close most games alongside James and three guards with Westbrook, Beverley, Austin Reaves, Dennis Schroder and Kendrick Nunn all being in the mix for those spots.