LeBron & AD Need to Play Center!
Why the Los Angeles Lakers need both LeBron James and Anthony Davis to play some center if they want to win an NBA championship this year
Desperate times demand desperate measures. With Boogie’s injury and the pending expiration of LeBron’s biological clock and AD’s free agency clock, the time’s now come for the Lakers’ two superstars to agree to play center.
There’s no question the Lakers’ best two options to play the five are LeBron James and Anthony Davis. There’s also no question the Lakers can’t afford to blow this season with Davis’ free agency looming over next summer. After trading most of their young core for Anthony Davis, the Lakers need to win or at the very least come close to winning a championship this year. Anything less could result in a catastrophic disaster for the franchise.
DeMarcus Cousins tearing his ACL has put Anthony Davis in the same situation he found himself in two years ago with the Pelicans when Boogie tore his Achilles. If AD really wants to compete for an championship, then he’s going to need to put aside his preference to play the four and play center like he did for New Orleans. That his half season stint at the five was the best basketball he ever played as a pro should be incentive enough.
Fortunately for Davis, the Lakers also have another superstar on the roster who has a unique ability to excel as a small ball center in LeBron James. Like Davis, James has preferred to avoid the physicality of playing the five. But the last thing that LeBron James wants to see happen is the Lakers failing to win or compete for a championship and Anthony Davis deciding to leave the Lakers and sign with the Knicks as a free agent this summer.
The reality is JaVale McGee does not have the ability to stretch the defense or play when teams go small to be a viable solution at center for the Lakers to win a championship. Nor are any of the available centers being discussed like Joakim Noah, Kenneth Faried, or Dwight Howard viable options. Realistically, the Lakers’ only options at center if they want to compete for an NBA championship this season are LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Lakers’ best option would be to have Anthony Davis start and finish the first and second halves as the team’s starting center against most teams with JaVale McGee taking over difficult matchups against centers like Joel Embiid. LeBron James could be the ideal backup for Anthony Davis as a center when teams opted to go small versus the Lakers. A trio of Davis, James, and McGee could form a legitimate championship center rotation.
Using LeBron and AD to fill the Boogie’s minutes at center would also open the door for Kyle Kuzma to start at the three or four and become the third three-point shooter the Lakers need to spread the floor for their superstars. While neither James or Davis planned to play the five this season, I think both will realize and understand that it’s something they’re going to have to do if they realistically want to win or compete for a championship.
In the end, LeBron James and Anthony Davis having to play center could ultimately make the Lakers a better team and solidify their future together. Right now, it’s their only path towards winning the NBA championship.