Last season, Anthony Davis played 60% of his minutes at power forward in the regular season, which was the most minutes he’s played at power forward since the 2014-15 season, according to Basketball Reference. In the NBA playoffs, that number dropped to 40% — with the other 60% of his minutes coming at center — but that doesn’t mean Davis at center is the new normal for the Lakers.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the Lakers once again made the center position a priority in free agency because they want to continue to play Davis at power forward during the regular season:
Even though Davis is more than capable at center and played the position plenty during the Lakers’ postseason run, sources told ESPN that it remains a priority for L.A.’s front office to fill the roster with other reliable centers so that Davis doesn’t have to bear the brunt of the 5 position during the arduous regular season.
The Lakers won’t be able to rotate Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee like they did last season, as Howard signed with the Philadelphia 76ers and McGee was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they will have enough talent at center to keep Davis at the 4 for the entirety of the regular season, health and matchups permitting.
Not only were they able to sign Montrezl Harrell — the 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year — to a two-year deal using the full mid-level exception, but they were also able to lure Marc Gasol from the Toronto Raptors for the veteran’s minimum. They’re not as big, but they’re just as talented, if not more talented, in the frontcourt.
If the Lakers want to add another big man to their rotation, they should take a hard look at two hometown kids: Dewayne Dedmon and Taj Gibson. Dedmon and Gibson weren’t especially productive last season, but there’s a good chance they will look more like the best versions of themselves on a championship-contending team, as opposed to teams like the Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks, respectively.
Ultimately, though, whoever the Lakers sign going forward will just be insurance for the players that they already have, and that’s a testament to how important the front office viewed the center position this offseason. If Davis didn’t know before, he should know now that the Lakers are committed to taking care of him. All that’s left is for him to put pen to paper and officially re-sign.