After weeks and months of endless reports and speculation this summer, Anthony Davis started off media day for the Lakers on Tuesday by confirming his expectation is to play at center this season. Davis’ move to center comes after the acquisition of Russell Westbrook and the most recent reports saying the expectation was for Davis to start at center, which he reiterated himself.
“There was the expectation and that was discussed, and I expect to play center,” Davis said. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Me and (head coach) Frank (Vogel) talked about it a couple of times and that’s the plan. Right now, nothing is set in stone but we want to see what that looks like, and I’m comfortable with that.
“Obviously, there’s times where Dwight (Howard) or (DeAndre Jordan) might get the start at center depending on games, but for the most part, I think the plan is to go with me playing center.”
While Davis seemed to signal a shift in philosophy for him and the Lakers, head coach Frank Vogel downplayed that notion, indicating the team was focused more on a 50-50 split for Davis between the power forward and center position.
Frank Vogel says "it's still to be determined" how much AD will actually play center. He says the balance will be closer to the first year AD was here than last year.— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) September 28, 2021
It’s not surprising Vogel may downplay the move, as it’s in his nature as a coach to hold his cards as long as possible. At the very least, it appears Davis will play more minutes at the center position than last season.
While Davis has played center throughout his time with the Lakers, him starting at center has not been common. Most notably, the Lakers turned to Davis starting at center in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in 2020, a move that led to a blowout win to secure the team’s 17th title.
However, there has been only one other occurrence of Davis starting at center — a one-off pre-playoff game inside the bubble — as he and the team have opted for a traditional big man in the starting lineup as well. However, with Westbrook, a historically bad volume 3-point shooter, joining the fold, spacing will be necessary for the Lakers, predicating Davis’ move to center.
With him at the 5, the Lakers will open up a wing spot in the starting lineup which could be used on another shooter to add more spacing in lieu of a big man in the paint, clogging driving lanes for Westbrook and LeBron James.
The move is a welcome sight for the Lakers and their fans heading into a season with plenty of excitement and plenty of expectations, and signifies that Davis is ready to do whatever it takes to make sure this year ends up better than last season.