Sunday, September 24 2023

By all accounts, Anthony Davis had a very productive season for the Los Angeles Lakers. Sure, he missed about five weeks at midseason with a stress injury in his right foot, and he was inconsistent at times early in the playoffs, but other than that, he was outstanding.

He averaged 25.9 points a game while establishing career-highs in rebounds per game (12.5) and shooting accuracy (56.3 percent) during the regular season. Had he missed fewer games, Davis would’ve been officially recognized as the NBA’s leader in rebounding average.

Although he had some difficulties at the free throw line in crunch time, his foul shot accuracy of 78.4 percent was a significant improvement over the previous two years.

But he got outplayed by Nikola Jokic in the conference finals, and perhaps the burden of guarding the two-time MVP was too much for him.

Is it time for the Lakers to start Davis at the 4 and split his time between the 4 and the 5 next season?

The benefits of Davis playing the 4

At times in the series against the Denver Nuggets, the Lakers used Davis as a help defender while having Rui Hachimura or LeBron James match up defensively on Jokic. Although the results were somewhat mixed, this strategy showed plenty of potential for being effective.


One problem Los Angeles had in the series was transition defense, particularly when Jokic was leading the fast break. When Jokic successfully boxed out Davis to grab a rebound and then started the break, it left Davis out of position and trailing the play while attempting to run back.

Playing Davis at the 4 alongside a solid rebounder and defender at the 5 would allow him to be in position to quickly retreat back on defense.

Indeed, transition defense was a big weakness for the Lakers all season. They ranked 27th in fast-break points allowed during the regular season, and perhaps one reason was that Davis almost exclusively played at the 5.

In addition, Davis playing the 4 would allow him to be more of a disruptor defensively while allowing him to leak out for more fast-break buckets of his own.


It’s something he had the luxury of doing in the 2019-20 season when the Lakers won the NBA championship.

Why get away from something that worked well?

During the 2019-20 campaign, Davis played 60 percent of his minutes at the power forward position, and it helped make L.A. one of the league’s best defensive teams.

Many Lakers fans have wondered why the organization essentially dismantled that championship team and went away from a winning formula. During that championship year, the team had JaVale McGee starting at center, with Dwight Howard manning the spot off the bench for 18.9 minutes a game. Both men provided shot blocking, overall defense, rebounding and easy baskets off lob passes and fast breaks.


Perhaps the Lakers would be better off with someone such as Mo Bamba, who is a good shot-blocker and 3-point shooter, starting at the 5 and playing about 15-20 minutes a game there. They would then need a dependable backup center (Tristan Thompson, anyone?) who can provide another 15 minutes or so with Davis taking care of the remaining minutes at the position.

Such a lineup and rotation would make them bigger and more athletic, which would instantly improve their fortunes next season in what could be James’ final voyage with the Purple and Gold.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire

Source: Yahoo Sports


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