The Lakers Likely Starting Lineup!
Here’s the Los Angeles Lakers’ likely starting lineup in the wake of the news Anthony Davis and Rob Pelinka prefer he plays power forward
Anthony Davis’ press conference and news he and Rob Pelinka prefer he plays power forward over center brought some needed clarity to questions about the Lakers’ roster building process and likely starting lineup.
While his best numbers and playoff success have come playing center, Anthony Davis and Rob Pelinka made it clear during his press conference that the Lakers’ superstar big man will be playing mostly power forward. With only one year left on his contract, the Lakers want to make sure not only that Davis is happy and signs an extension but also that he plays the position that will limit the physical wear and tear on his body long term.
But this is about Anthony Davis showing that it was him and not Rich Paul who was taking control of his career. “I like playing the four,” Davis said, referring to power forward. “I’m not even going to sugarcoat it. I like playing the four. I don’t really like playing the five.” Turning, smiling, and putting his hand on Frank Vogel’s shoulder, Davis added: “If it comes down to it, coach, and you need me to play the five, then I’ll play the five.”
Rob Pelinka then expanded on Davis’ comments: “I’ll just add to that too, when Anthony and I first started talking about the roster, he did say ‘hey, I’d love to have some fives that can bang with some length,’ and he’s 26. We want a decade of dominance out of him here. We’ve got to do what’s best for his body, and having him bang against the biggest centers in the West every night is not what’s best for his body, the team, or the franchise.”
Pelinka went on to discuss free agency: “That’s why we were so excited when we got commitments from JaVale McGee, who just with his size and length, him playing at the four and JaVale at the five, that length is extraordinary. And then DeMarcus making a commitment to come here, he complemented and played so well with AD in New Orleans that you could just tell he’s made a commitment to his body and just having a huge year.”
We’re now in the age of player empowerment and Anthony Davis was clearly calling the shots when it came to the Lakers’ roster building process. Adding centers JaVale McGee and DeMarcus Cousins were direct responses to Anthony Davis’ requests and preference to play mostly power forward. “We wanted to make sure to honor what Anthony asked for when we traded for him: To get some fives that he could play with,” said Pelinka.
The commitment to play Anthony Davis at the four also adds needed clarity to the Lakers’ likely starting lineup with a front court consisting of LeBron James at the three, Davis at the four, and either DeMarcus Cousins or Javale McGee at the five. Considering how Boogie looked and sounded during his recent press conference and how well he and AD played together with the Pelicans, Cousins clearly looks like the Lakers’ starting center.
Ignoring the recent rumors of LeBron playing point guard, the backcourt tandem that makes the most sense for the Lakers would have Avery Bradley starting at point guard and Danny Green at shooting guard. An Avery Bradley and Danny Green backcourt would give the Lakers a potential elite two-way backcourt with a pair of dead-eye three-point shooters and lock-down defenders to complement a James/Davis/Cousins front court.
What jumps about a Bradley/Green/James/Davis/Cousins starting lineup is it’s veteran pedigree. The lineup boasts three current or former All-NBA players, four current or former all All-Defensive players, and three current or former All-Stars. The big question is obviously health as Cousins is returning from a torn Achilles two years ago and torn quad in the Finals and Bradley has been plagued with multiple injuries the last two years.
Spacing could also be an issue even though all five starters are willing and capable three-point shooters who can stretch the floor. The problem is only Danny Green at 45.5% and Avery Bradley at 38.4% are elite three-point shooters. LeBron James at 34.3%, Anthony Davis at 31.4%, and DeMarcus Cousins at 33.2% are just average career three-point shooters. As a result, there will likely be times the Lakers will need Davis to play the five.
But the upside of a Bradley/Green/James/Davis/Cousins starting lineup is its potential to dominate at both ends of the court. The Lakers’ frontcourt of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins could be an unstoppable juggernaut offensively with its unmatched combination of size and skill while the backcourt of Avery Bradley and Danny Green with its elite long range shooting and defensive prowess is a perfect complement.
With Kuzma as sixth man, Rondo and Caruso as backup points, McGee as backup center, Dudley and Caldwell-Pope as backup wings, and Cook and Daniels as elite shooters, the Lakers have a deep and diverse bench with one roster slot still open and holding for Andre Iguodala or another wing. While the Lakers missed out on Kawhi Leonard, Rob Pelinka and the front office have done a great job building a team around LeBron and AD.
With a wild and whacky summer almost over and chance to win an NBA championship as wide open as ever, the Lakers with LeBron James and Anthony Davis may have the best starting lineup and roster in the league.