It’s some cruel irony that the Lakers have seen two separate big men this year flourish in big ways, yet haven’t been able to experience the pair of them excelling next to one another.
In the early stages of the season, it was Anthony Davis who was putting together historic performances before going down with an injury. In his absence, Thomas Bryant has found his footing and has been one of the best players on the team in the last month-plus.
Bryant’s recent strong play has certainly gotten the Lakers themselves thinking about the possibility, whether it’s LeBron having “visions" of a Lakers frontcourt with him, AD and Bryant or Bryant himself. In a recent piece by Dan Woike of the LA Times, Bryant talked about the possibility of playing alongside Davis.
“I always think of that. Just to be able to incorporate him and my skill set as well, I feel like it’s going to be a great approach to the game of basketball,” he said after the Lakers beat Sacramento. “But, for right now, I can’t think too much ahead about that. Right now, I just have to focus on the next game and the next game after that one until our superstar is back.
“For me, I always think about it. I try to not get too ahead of it, but man, that would be special right there.”
On paper, it might make sense to put together two big men that have had plenty of success this season. But the reality is that they have hardly shared the court together this year.
When AD was finding most of his success, Bryant was working his way back from his thumb injury. Davis also was almost exclusively playing center. The end result is that the two of them have only played 13 minutes together this year across seven games.
But there are more reasons to think the two could find success. Bryant has played 77 minutes alongside Wenyen Gabriel this season, the closest thing on the Lakers roster to a traditional power forward, and has a net rating of +9.5 in that time together.
On the flip side, Davis has similarly played 47 minutes with Gabriel this season, the only other big he’s played with, and has a net rating of +33.7 in that span. Ultimately, though, comparing how the two did with a different big man involves a whole lot of projection.
The chance to see them share the court could be in the near future. Davis is progressing along with his rehab with his most recent step forward seeing him start running on the court. The current timeline would see him back likely sometime between late January and early February at the latest.