This is a big season for the Los Angeles Lakers and Anthony Davis. The Lakers are in a perpetual title chase and, this year, they will do so with the added pressure of LeBron James potentially walking away after this season.
For Davis, “big” is how he describes himself as a player.
“S—, who knows,” Davis said, per Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times on October 6. “I’m still trying to figure it out. I am a ‘big man.’ There you go … I am a big that plays basketball.”
The Lakers’ official website lists the 6-foot-10, 253-pound Davis as a “forward-center” but he was also often the only big man on the floor for the Lakers last season, spending 100% of his time at the 5, per Basketball Reference. For Lakers head coach Darvin Ham, it is not even that complicated.
Antetokounmpo is listed as two inches taller than Davis but the Lakers star has 10 pounds on his counterpart. While the Bucks have put the ball in Antetokounmpo’s hands more often, Davis has a playmaking background as a former high school point guard, and he still has some of those skills, warranting such a comparison to this day.
“You just put him out there and he’s going to figure it out,” Ham said. “He has the physical tools and skills to do whatever he wants to do on the basketball court.”
What Davis wants to do is win championships. Even after his name dotted multiple season awards predictions, Davis’ primary focus is helping the Lakers raise their 17th banner and however many more come after that, though he does note some past individual discrepancies.
“It’s about hanging championships,” he said. “I mean, if I do what I’m supposed to do — of course, I feel like I got cheated out of a couple defensive awards — but if I do what I’m supposed to do, play how I’m supposed to play, that stuff will come. … For me, it’s how many rings I can get before it’s all said and done.”
Lakers’ Anthony Davis Working Through Position Change
Ham’s approach is needed as Davis tries to transition back to being a power forward after the Lakers added Jaxson Hayes and Christian Wood in free agency this offseason. It’s forced Davis to harken back to his time with the New Orleans Pelicans.
“I was confused a lot,” Davis said per Turner. “It’s still figuring things out. Talking with the coaches and Jaxson and C-Wood about some things that I did with DeMarcus [Cousins] and Julius [Randle] back in New Orleans. … It feels good to stay out of 100 pick and rolls a game. So, I still got a lot to learn from it. I still got a lot to explore.”
Their ability to play alongside Davis further alleviates the strain of limiting him positionally.
Anthony Davis: ‘This is The Lakers’ Team’
Perhaps of even more concern to the Lakers is whether or not Davis is ready to take up his position at the top of the pecking order should James finally hang it up after this season. The latter left the door open for retirement after last season and again was nebulous at best when asked about his plans after 2023-24 on media day.
Davis has said James told him he wanted the former to seize control of the team, and the latter called the big man the “face” of the Lakers organization on media day this year. But Davis – who signed a three-year, $186 million contract extension this offseason, downplayed that.
“I think it’s the Lakers team, and I play for the Lakers,” Davis said via the team on October 2.
James is starting a two-year, $99 million contract extension himself this season. But he has a player option for next season and will turn 39 years old in December adding to the urgency.