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Lakers expecting to play Anthony Davis more at center upon return

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  • Los Angeles Lakers
    Los Angeles Lakers
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Anthony Davis
    Anthony Davis
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  • Carmelo Anthony
    Carmelo Anthony
    American basketball player
  • Frank Vogel
    Frank Vogel
    American basketball coach

While Anthony Davis watched from the sidelines with an MCL sprain, the Los Angeles Lakers adjusted to his absence by emphasizing more lineups with LeBron James at center.

Playing the 6-foot-9 James at the 5 optimized floor spacing and allowed the Lakers to deploy James in different positions, such as using his passing prowess as the roller in a pick-and-roll.

The formula for a successful team around James has always involved surrounding him with quality 3-and-D players. Though the Lakers aren’t a perfect shooting or defensive team, the squad was 5-0 with James starting at center before losing to the Memphis Grizzlies.

But with Davis in the last week of the four-week timetable given before his re-evaluation, head coach Frank Vogel revealed a plan that would allow both stars to play the 5.

“I think you’re gonna see Anthony playing a lot at the five and then when Anthony is out, we have the lineups that we’ve been playing right now with LeBron basically playing point center,” Vogel said after Tuesday’s practice. “It is a direction that I think we’re gonna land with this group toward the second half of the season and one we’re seeing obvious benefits for right now that we feel like we’re gonna be even more enhanced when Anthony gets back.”

The Lakers signed Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan over the summer in hopes of replicating the success they saw in the Orlando bubble when a vertical-threat center played alongside Davis. However, Howard hasn’t been consistent with his minutes and is best in short stints. Jordan has completely fallen out of the rotation after originally being a starter.

Davis has played 70% of his minutes at center this year; that was 91% the previous season. With him healthy again, the Lakers can abandon lineups that featured Carmelo Anthony or Stanley Johnson manning the rim, especially the former.

If the eight-time All-Star can bounce back from his injury, the Lakers could make noise as the playoffs approach.

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