When the Los Angeles Lakers introduced Anthony Davis at their training facility in El Segundo last month, Davis playfully alluded to the fact that he doesn’t want to play center next season with his new head coach, Frank Vogel, sitting beside him.
“I like playing the four, I’m not even going to sugarcoat it. I like playing the four, I don’t really like playing the five,” Davis said with a smile. “But if it comes down to it, coach, and you need me to play the five, I’ll play the five.”
However, with DeMarcus Cousins expected to miss the entire season with an ACL tear, Davis not wanting to play center is no laughing matter. With the exception of JaVale McGee, the Lakers don’t have a true center on their roster, nor do they have someone that can slide into that role outside of Davis.
Despite this, the Lakers reportedly don’t plan on forcing Davis to play center too much next season:
In the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins news a high ranking member of the Lakers tells me that they do not expect nor do they want Anthony Davis to play “big minutes” at center this season @NBATV— Jared Greenberg (@JaredSGreenberg) August 16, 2019
On one hand, the Lakers need to do everything they can to make ensure Davis is happy leading up to next summer, when he’ll hit unrestricted free agency. On the other hand, the best way to keep him happy is to win basketball games and their best chance of doing that is with him at center.
Luckily, history tells us that Davis and the Lakers will be able to reach a happy compromise.
Davis has been outspoken about not wanting to play center in the past, but in each of the last four seasons, Davis has played the majority of his minutes at center. In fact, according to Basketball Reference, Davis played 96 percent of his minutes at the center position with the New Orleans Pelicans last season.
Does Davis want to play center? No. Will Davis play center if it means putting his team in the best position to succeed? All signs point to yes.
In other words, it’s not a problem until it is and there’s no reason to believe it will be.