Anthony Davis says he’ll play any role Lakers need in “must-win” play-in game vs. Warriors
For the second consecutive year since Davis arrived in Los Angeles, the 6’11 superstar has spent most of his (healthy) regular season at power forward, while a combination of Andre Drummond and Marc Gasol has started alongside him (Montrezl Harrell rarely plays with AD).
Davis is expected to slide to the 5 for much of the postseason, as he did in the bubble. The Lakers most dangerous and versatile lineups feature AD at center, allowing LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma to man the forward spots while Frank Vogel can mix-and-match shooters, ball-handlers, and perimeter defenders (Dennis Schröder, Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Ben McLemore, Wesley Matthews, Talen Horton-Tucker) in the backcourt.
Davis prefers to play 4 during the season to save some wear-and-tear, but now that it’s play-off — or rather, play-in time — AD knows he might be asked to make his annual slide to center.
“That’s more of a coaches’ decision,” he told reporters Tuesday. “If I need to play the 5, you guys know I will. I have no problem with that come playoff time.”
Against the Warriors — who often use Draymond Green at the five in small-ball lineups as they look to create chaos, push the tempo, and jack threes — AD’s deployment in that role may be the Lakers’ best, but not only, option.
“That team looks different sometimes,” Davis noted. “They go with Draymond at the 5 and we might throw Marc and Drum out there at the 5, and I stay 4. Or, we might make an adjustment where I’m the 5 and Kuz, ‘Bron 4, 3…But, if I need to play the 5, then I have no problem sliding down to the 5.”
Frank Vogel called Green “one of the best to ever to do it, quite frankly, in terms of playing the small-ball center role.”
“Obviously, we spent a lot of time looking at that with our group today,” Vogel added. “We’re prepared to play him with bigs, or with AD at the 5.”
Fortunately for Los Angeles, AD has his rhythm back on both ends. Over his past six full games, Davis has resembled his dominant two-way self, averaging 27.5 points and 8.7 rebounds.
“I feel great,” Davis said. “Never took that many games off at one time, 30 games. So, it was different. But it was good. Especially on a shortened off-season to have that gap where I can get fully healthy and kind of have that offseason…to take care of the body. My wind feels good. I have my rhythm back, I feel. I’m ready to go, I’m locked in for this game tomorrow.”
The Lakers can still earn the no. 8 seed should they fall to Golden State, but AD doesn’t want to take any chances.
“We can’t afford to lose this game…even though it’s double elimination,” he said. “We definitely want to get into that 7-seed…It will be very beneficial for us to win this game tomorrow and have those three days in between games to tighten up the screws.”
“We look at it like a Game 7 for sure. It’s a must-win for us.”