The narrowing of his eyes and the smile were small indications of the mental gymnastics Anthony Davis still seems to be playing when he was asked about his preferred position for the Lakers.
Is he a forward who plays center? Or is he a center who can play forward?
“S—, who knows,” Davis said, laughing. “I’m still trying to figure it out.”
Davis paused for a few seconds and continued with the definition of his position.
“I’m still trying to figure it out. I am a ‘big man.’ There you go,” he said. “I am a big that plays basketball.”
Davis was listed as power forward on the Lakers’ roster last season, but in the 54 regular-season games he played, he started at center.
But then Davis told a story of how he was playing alongside newcomers Jaxson Hayes and Christian Wood during training camp this week. He said his two teammates “were doing a good job” playing the center spot. But, Davis, not so much while playing the “four.”
“I was confused a lot. I was sliding back into the four during some possessions [and I heard], ‘AD, run corner!’ I forgot,” Davis said, smiling again. “So, it was good. 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. So, it’s been good. 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. But it’s been good the first couple days.”
In the eyes of Lakers coach Darvin Ham, it’s simple what Davis is in fact.
“To me, I view him as a hell of a basketball player — in the same way I viewed Giannis [Antetokounmpo] when I was in Milwaukee. AD, he is of that ilk, where you just put him out there and he’s going to figure it out. He has the physical tools and skills to do whatever he wants to do on the basketball court.”
Early in his career with the Lakers, Davis talked about wanting to win the NBA’s defensive player of the year award.
It’s not something he talks about now.
He was asked why?
“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. At the end of the day, the goal is to win championships and the individual awards are a bonus. Obviously everyone wants to win some type of individual award along their career but it’s really not a focus. If it comes, it comes. For me, it’s how many rings I can get before it’s all said and done.”
Reaves to sit Golden State game
Like LeBron James, Ham said starting guard Austin Reaves “won’t play either” in the Lakers’ preseason game Saturday at Golden State.
The Lakers are easing Reaves back into training camp after he played for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup.
Friday was a day when Reaves ramped up his play in the scrimmage and he left an impression.
“He was great today, too, as far as me needing to say that,” Ham said. “But the fact that it’s only preseason, we’ll have some other guys get a ton of reps. But Austin was unbelievable today in the scrimmage.”
Ham added this about Reaves: “We kicked the training wheels off today and he responded unbelievably. Like, the kid looked great. Just his confidence and the way he commands with the ball in his hands, without the ball in his hands, his scrappiness, his IQ, his ability to make shots, get the defense off-balanced. He was doing all of that today.”
A set starting five?
Ham has been unwilling to say who will be the fifth starter, preferring to stick with Davis, James, Reaves and D’Angelo Russell as the core of starters.
Forwards Jarred Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura and Christian Wood appear to be candidates, as is perhaps Taurean Prince.
Ham said he prefers to have a starting group and to stick with that for the entire season — if it’s possible.
“I mean, outside of the playoffs where you have to make adjustments with your rotation at times and your starting lineup, for the regular season, I want to settle in on one group,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to do that because guys have routines. They have their pre-game regiment, different eating habits, sleeping habits, understanding when they are going to go into the games. For you to disrupt that really can affect performance. So, we’re going to try to settle in on one group and ride that group.”