Case for Starting LeBron at Center Even After Anthony Davis Returns

While the Los Angele Lakers may have to rely on going small with LeBron James at the five to survive the six weeks until Anthony Davis returns, there’s a compelling case for keeping the King at the five even after AD returns.

With Davis likely out until February, the Lakers are poised to commit to starting LeBron James at center until AD returns. They’ve already moved DeAndre Jordan out of the rotation and Dwight Howard should be next. Unless the Lakers make a sudden surprise move to add another center, you can expect a heavy dose of small ball with LeBron James starting at the five. That’s the only way the Lakers are going to survive until AD gets back.

So far this season, LeBron at the five has been one of the Lakers’ best lineups, posting an impressive 13.5 offensive rating (2nd best in NBA) and 106.0 defensive rating (5th best in NBA) for a +7.5 net rating (3rd best in NBA). Considering most of those stats were compiled with Jordan or Howard as a second big, the LeBron at the five metrics going forward with Anthony Davis playing his preferred power forward position should be even better.

Because of his low center of gravity, physical strength, and veteran savvy, James is a better on-ball low-post defender than Anthony Davis, who excels as an off-the-ball help shot blocker who can roam like a football free safety. Throw in James’ unrivaled playmaking and bully ball invulnerability and you start to see how having him play the five and AD the four could be the better long-term solution rather than him at the four and Davis at the five.

Playing LeBron instead of AD at the five changes everything. The Lakers get bigger, badder, and better with LeBron at center. Frank gets his two bigs, AD gets his preferred power forward, and LeBron becomes a small ball five.

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