It’s been well-documented that Anthony Davis does not want to play center any more than he has to during the regular season. According to recent report, however, his willingness to play the five might go up when the Los Angeles Lakers get the playoffs.
In his recent story on how the Lakers ended up signing Dwight Howard, Shams Charania of The Athletic reiterated Davis’ lack of desire to play center, but also is one of the first to confirm what every Lakers fan has been hoping: That Davis is much happier to play up a position when the games really matter (emphasis mine).
For Davis, the desire to play alongside a true center is real. Davis is comfortable playing minutes at center during the playoffs, a league source told The Athletic but prefers a true big next to him over a full regular season.
The Lakers understood this and began targeting Howard.
The addition of Howard gives the Lakers two traditional centers — Howard and JaVale McGee — that can soak up the majority of the minutes at the five during the regular season, saving Davis from having to play there more than five to 10 minutes on scattered nights as part of a closing lineup.
There are a lot of reasons that strategy makes sense — saving wear-and-tear on Davis, who has a lengthy injury history, as well as placating a star who could leave next summer — but Lakers fans (and the team itself) should be excited to hear that Davis is willing to ramp up his minutes at center when the playoffs roll around.
The reality in the NBA is that no team plays heavy minutes of their best small-ball lineups all season, and the Lakers are likely no different in that respect. But in the postseason, other teams will look to attack Howard and McGee relentlessly with pick-and-rolls and by trying to out-quick them by going small, two advantages that Davis playing the five pretty much fully negates.
It makes sense that Davis wants to avoid playing center for the entirety of the season to preserve his body for the playoffs, and at least when the postseason arrives, it sounds like he’s ready and willing to take advantage of the added boost in freshness that decision could give him.