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Inside the Lakers’ and Anthony Davis’s concept f…..

Inside Anthony Davis and the Lakers’ vision for their latest big-man trio

A few dozen kids at the Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, California, had exclusive practice access the day before the Los Angeles Lakers’ last preseason game. This is unusual for a team that typically will not even let reporters and news cameras into the gym until after the group has dispersed for individual free throw shooting.

As the sponsored team appearance wound down, it was hard to miss the commotion caused when Lakers big man Anthony Davis, with his sneakers slung over his shoulder like Santa’s toy sack, made his way to the group of kids as he walked off the court.

“AD! Anthony! Can I get your signature?! I got my Sharpie!”

What wasn’t as noticeable was Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes flanking behind Davis, themselves looking a little like siblings waiting for their big brother.

Without Davis insisting that vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka and the Lakers’ front office find more post players to surround him as he plays out the $186 million contract extension he signed this summer, Wood and Hayes might not be in L.A.

But, unless Davis can help indoctrinate the two free agent acquisitions to the point Lakers coach Darvin Ham trusts them at center, he could end up back at the 5 again, a position he has pushed back against since his very first day with the Lakers.

Seeing the trio of big men together was a common occurrence during training camp. With Wood and Hayes, Davis has made a conscious effort to mimic the inner effectiveness and camaraderie he experienced with Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee during the 2019–20 championship season.

“I just try to be that leader,” Davis told ESPN. “Guys visit, sometimes we watch football. Feel free to bring the whole family. Just trying to do things like that just to show to the guys, like, ‘I’m here for y’all. Whatever y’all need. My house is always open.’

In a way, the Lakers’ approach this season is a failsafe setup.

Davis wants to play less center, so preparing Wood and Hayes to play minutes there will allow AD more time at power forward.

In order to increase their market value and benefit from the Lakers’ platform, Wood and Hayes—who are both signed to veteran minimum deals—need playing time.

Malik Monk and Dennis Schroder are the most recent examples of how the Lakers want to win while simultaneously building on their recent reputation as a team where players can get paid for performing well.

As a luxury tax team limited by the new collective bargaining agreement, the Lakers need players on one-year deals to find success around their core to sustain their winning window.

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