When they acquired Anthony Davis and surrounded him and LeBron James with veteran shooters, most people expected the Los Angeles Lakers to finally succeed in executing the small-ball strategy in the 2019-20 NBA season. However, it seems like even without using the strategy that helped the Golden State Warriors build their own dynasty, the Lakers could become a successful team in the league. With the team currently sitting in the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference, Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel reveals the main reason why the Lakers aren’t playing small ball as much as other teams in the NBA.
“Well, we’re playing big because we have the luxury of having Anthony Davis at the power forward position,” Vogel said, as quoted by SB Nation’s Silver Screen And Roll. “I feel like the way the league has transitioned, the center position has not gone away. I feel like the non-dominant power forward is the position that has really fallen off. You can’t have a non-shooting power forward in today’s NBA if he’s not dominant, but Anthony gives us the option of having that elite offensive player, defensive player.”
When he arrived in Los Angeles, the initial belief was that Anthony Davis would be playing as the Lakers’ starting center to enable them to create their own “Death Lineup.” However, before the 2019-20 NBA season started, Davis informed the Lakers that he wanted to play more at the power forward position during the regular season to help him preserve his body for the postseason. Some people thought that Davis’ request would put the Lakers at a major disadvantage when they faced NBA teams who are executing the small-ball strategy. Luckily, Davis’ decision to play at the power forward position ended up benefiting the Lakers, and it helped them discover the team’s hidden potential.
Aside from Davis, Vogel also credited their two athletic centers — Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee — for their recent success, saying that both big men made his job easier. Though they aren’t capable of efficiently knocking down shots from beyond the arc, Howard and McGee are “lob threats” and have been doing very well on the defensive end of the floor.
With the team only playing a few games together, most people believe that the Lakers are still far from showcasing their full potential, which would definitely be a major problem for other title contenders from the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. If they build better chemistry and prevent any major injuries, it won’t be hard to imagine the Lakers returning to the NBA Finals and bringing home the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Los Angeles this season.