Anthony Davis is more than willing to start at center for the Lakers this season.
This is news because when Davis was acquired by the Lakers before the start of the 2019-20 season from New Orleans, he said, “I like playing the four. I don’t really like playing the five.”
After having discussions with Lakers coach Frank Vogel and with teammates LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, Davis is just fine with changing position from power forward to center.
“There was expectations and that was discussed, and I expect to play center,” Davis said Tuesday during the Lakers’ media day at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Me and Frank 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.”
The Lakers have two powerful, athletic and agile centers in Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan, and one of them could be the starter at times if Davis starts at power forward.
“But, for the most part,” Davis said, “I think the plan is to go with me playing center.”
Vogel reminded reporters that Davis played center his first two seasons with the Lakers, one of which led to the NBA championship in 2020.
JaVale McGee was the starting center on that team and Howard was the backup.
Last season the Lakers had Marc Gasol, Montrezl Harrell and, later, Andre Drummond at center.
“It’s just what type of balance are we going to have? And that’s still to be determined,” Vogel said. “I think the first year, it was a near 50-50 balance of him playing alongside another big at the four, and then him sliding to the five. Last year was more him playing the four with Marc and Drummond and Trez getting a lot of those minutes in there. I think we’re going to return to the first year’s balance. But he’ll play some four and some five.”
Davis missed 36 games during last season’s 72-game schedule, including 30 because of a strained right calf.
He strained his left groin in the playoffs against the Phoenix Suns, forcing him to miss Game 5. He hyperextended his left knee in Game 3 of that series after a chase-down block on Suns guard Devin Booker.
Davis worked on his body over the summer because he doesn’t want to miss games during the 82-game season that starts Oct. 19 against Golden State at Staples Center.
“I don’t feel comfortable missing that many games,” Davis said. “I’ve missed games in my career, but the Achilles, missing 30, not being able to play at full strength in the playoffs against Phoenix. Didn’t play Game 5. That didn’t sit well with me. So, I made an emphasis on just taking care of my body and getting my body back to what it was as far as strength-wise in my first year here. And that’s what I put my biggest focus on this summer.”
The 6-foot-10, 253-pound Davis averaged 21.8 points last season, the lowest since his second year in the NBA. He averaged 7.9 rebounds, the lowest of his nine-year career.
Davis, 28, feels rejuvenated and says he’s ready to lead the Lakers.
“I think I have that capability of doing so. Obviously, we got a lot of great talent on this team, a lot of great leaders,” he said. “Obviously, I know that the guys have talked to me about, ‘This is your team, we go as you go,’ and kind of the same thing that we did my first year here.
“But I think adding a couple guys that makes that job a lot easier where it takes a lot of stress and a lot of load off of one guy, where we can have four, five, six guys that can do what they have to do to win basketball games, and at the end of the day, we all have to sacrifice to be able to reach our common goal and that’s to win a championship.”