Lakers depth chart breakdown: Ed Davis

Below is the eighth in a series previewing the story lines surrounding each player on the Lakers’ roster for the 2014-15 season. This post focuses on Lakers forward Ed Davis.

1. Where will Ed Davis fit in the Lakers’ frontcourt?
Following the health of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, the second biggest storyline coming out of Lakers’ training camp will entail positional battles. Though Lakers coach Byron Scott said every starting spot outside of Bryant’s position will become up for grabs, it appears the forward spot seems the most unpredictable because of the number of possible candidates.

Carlos Boozer is considered the favorite because of his experience, while rookie Julius Randle is expected to have chances to develop as a highly touted rookie. So where does that leave Davis? Will his strong defensive credentials overshadow Boozer’s defensive concerns? Will Davis’ relative experience over Randle still give him an advantage?

2. Can Davis overcome potentially inconsistent playing time?
Scott has stressed that his players will have to earn their playing time. But it’s still fair to point out that Davis’ success could hinge on how many minutes he plays. Consider the difference between Davis posting a career-high 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 24.9 minutes per game in the 2012-13 season and finishing last season averaging only 5.7 points and 4.1 rebounds in 15.2 minutes.

Of course, output usually increases with more opportunities. But as Bleacher Report recently noted, Davis has represented one of seven players to average at least 13 points on 53 percent shooting, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes.

Simply put, plenty of Davis’ struggles simply points to a lack of opportunity, including playing in Memphis behind a loaded frontcourt that included Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Davis could encounter similar issues considering the Lakers have a frontcourt featuring Boozer, Randle, Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre and Ryan Kelly. This situation puts the onus both on Davis to establish a niche despite possibly limited opportunities and for Scott to put Davis in a position to succeed.

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Julius Randle hosting 3-on-3 fundraiser for cancer charity

Kentucky forward Julius Randle, right, poses for a photo with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected seventh overall by the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Kentucky forward Julius Randle, right, poses for a photo with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected seventh overall by the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2014 NBA draft, Thursday, June 26, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Julius Randle will encounter an opponent far more difficult to beat than a bruising big man in the paint. He will still push even if the effort proves more challenging than anything he encounters his rookie season with the Lakers. Randle will relish this experience despite the complicated schedule providing a sneak preview on what the NBA’s grinding 82-game season entails.

This weekend, Randle is hosting a three-on-three basketball tournament at his alma mater, Prestonwood Christian Academy, near Dallas, Texas to raise funds for the TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation. The $200 registration fee for each team will go toward the foundation’s efforts in providing funds for research and treatment surrounding childhood cancer. Randle will then immediately fly back to Los Angeles for the Lakers’ Media Day on Monday at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo.

This initiative taps into Randle’s hope to use his NBA basketball career as a launching pad toward helping those in need. But this particular issue also hits Randle closely. In 2009, one of Randle’s young Prestonwood classmates named Connor Cruse died because of neuroblastoma cancer.

“Ever since then, I had a heart and passion for it,” Randle said in an interview with this newspaper. “No kid should ever have to go through that. I’ve always been willing to help his family. Cancer affects everybody, even kids. So for me, this is touching.”
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Mitch Kupchak tempering expectations for Julius Randle

Julius Randle of University of Kentucky at a pre-draft workout at the Lakers gym in El Segundo, CA. Tuesday June 17, 2014. (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)

Julius Randle of University of Kentucky at a pre-draft workout at the Lakers gym in El Segundo, CA. Tuesday June 17, 2014. (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)

The Lakers made the first major step in their rebuilding process when they used their seventh overall draft pick to select Julius Randle, a 19-year-old bruising forward that already has the talent and work ethic to have a long-term future here.

But Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak stepped his foot on the brakes in assessing what impact Randle can make his rookie season. In a wide-ranging press conference on Friday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo, Kupchak anticipated Randle initially driving through some speed bumps.

“There are going to be moments where he plays just great and then there will be moments he gets a rebound, brings the ball down the court and commits an offensive foul, gets a defensive foul, drops his head, gets frustrated and gets a technical foul,” Kupchak said. “Then there will be moments he will just be great.”
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Xavier Henry still rehabbing right knee

Lakers forward Xavier Henry isn't expected to be ready for training camp.  (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Lakers forward Xavier Henry isn’t expected to be ready for training camp. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

The season has not even started, and the Lakers already have injuries to monitor.

Lakers forward Xavier Henry will not be ready to practice once training camp starts on Tuesday, according to the team, because he has not fully rehabbed his right knee after having surgery on it in mid-April. The Lakers say Henry’s left wrist has fully healed since having surgery on it during the same time period.

Though the Lakers do not have a current timetable on when Henry could practice, he is currently limited toward running on a weight-bearing treadmill.

In an interview with this newspaper earlier this month, Lakers coach Byron Scott reported the likelihood Henry would not be fully healthy once training camp starts. It wasn’t clear at the time, however, the specifics surrounding Henry’s progress.

The Lakers resigned Henry this offseason to a one-year deal at around $1 million after averaging a career-high 10 points despite appearing in only 43 games because of his wrist and knee injuries. Henry will likely compete for playing time with Wesley Johnson and Nick Young at small forward, and Jordan Clarkson and Wayne Ellington at shooting guard.

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Byron Scott says Xavier Henry not fully recovered from injuries

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook.

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Mitch Kupchak believes Lakers will still attract top free agents

At a time when winning an NBA championship represented a normal season, the Lakers fulfilled their permanent mission statement through a pretty simple approach. With Los Angeles forever captivated with star power, the Lakers acquired plenty of superstars to satisfy that fix.

But the same organization that once showcased Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and Shaquille O’Neal could not entice the NBA’s current marquee stars to join the Lakers’ storied history. The Lakers pursued LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony this offseason only to see James return to Cleveland and Anthony to stay in New York.

“We never felt it was realistic to think we would get one or two,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak recalled Friday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “But if you don’t try, you don’t know. We went all out to pursue both of the people you’re talking about.”
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Mitch Kupchak exudes optimism on championship aspirations, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash

At the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, general manager Mitch Kupchak talks Friday about the upcoming season. (Scott Varley/Staff Photographer)

At the Lakers training facility in El Segundo, general manager Mitch Kupchak talks Friday about the upcoming season. (Scott Varley/Staff Photographer)

The Lakers’ championship trophies still sit in the office of president Jeanie Buss. The Lakers’ title banners and retired jerseys still hang along the walls that oversee the Lakers’ practice court. Despite that backdrop, however, the Lakers’ storied history has become muddled with some sobering reality.

The Lakers are a season removed from finishing with a 25-57 record, their worst season in L.A. franchise history. The Lakers struck out this offseason in pursuing high-level free agents LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. The injury bug severely affected Kobe Bryant (left Achilles tendon, left knee) and Steve Nash (nerve irritation in back/hamstrings). The Lakers ranked near the bottom in almost every defensive category.

Yet on Friday, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak outlined the tone the team will take as it opens up training camp next week.

“Our message to the organization and to the players is you’re always going into the season expecting to win a championship,” Kupchak said. “That’s how we feel and that’s how our players have to feel. They have to do their job, coaches have to do their job and I have to do my job.”
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Jeremy Lin’s photogallery of autograph signing

"New Los Angeles Lakers player Jeremy Lin signs autographs for fans at a shoe store in Culver City, CA on Thursday, September 25, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) "

“New Los Angeles Lakers player Jeremy Lin signs autographs for fans at a shoe store in Culver City, CA on Thursday, September 25, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) “

You read about Lakers guard Jeremy Lin wanting to become a complete player. You read about Lin providing positive reports on Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash after playing a handful of pickup games with them this offseason. You read about Lin using his time off from an extensive training and travel schedule to make goofy videos.

But pictures always tell a 1,000 words. And in the case of LANG’s photo gallery of Lin’s appearance at the Foot Locker at Westfield Mall in Culver City on Thursday, plenty of images tell various stories.

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Lakers depth chart breakdown: Jeremy Lin

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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Jeremy Lin makes video parodies to unwind

New Laker Jeremy Lin talks about the upcoming season before signing autographs for fans at a shoe store in Culver City. SCOTT VARLEY — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

New Laker Jeremy Lin talks about the upcoming season before signing autographs for fans at a shoe store in Culver City. SCOTT VARLEY — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The same man who devotes most of his day toward training spends his free time brainstorming video parody ideas. The same man who showed utmost seriousness toward completing his Harvard education also has a goofy side. The same man who has become a devout Christian also shows his humanity in another way.

Underneath Lin’s quest for self-improvement, the Lakers’ 26-year-old guard also strives to show off his quirky sense of humor. So once he finishes his training each day around 3 to 4 p.m., Lin carves out part of his schedule to create the next Youtube sensation.

Just this summer, Lin released a video mocking how he has suddenly gone “Hollywood” after the Lakers acquired him in a trade from the Houston Rockets, as well as one hilariously advising how to receive admissions into Harvard. Lin posted on Instagram a video that showed him shoving pie at his mom on her birthday and his mom paying him back shortly after. Lin also reported he has since paid her back for her retribution. Lin also recorded a dunk cam that entailed posterizing on random fans and his mom.

“It’s not like we’re bored everyday. It’s been a busy summer,” Lin said Thursday at the Foot Locker in Westfield Mall at Culver City, both to promote his Adidas shoes and sign autographs for fans. “We just try to find time to make it relaxing. Basketball is important and training is important, but there are ways to unwind. One of the ways for me is to make funny videos and have fun with it all.”
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Jeremy Lin gushes about health of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash

"New Los Angeles Lakers player Jeremy Lin talks about the upcoming season before signing autographs for fans at a shoe store in Culver City, CA on Thursday, September 25, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) "

“New Los Angeles Lakers player Jeremy Lin talks about the upcoming season before signing autographs for fans at a shoe store in Culver City, CA on Thursday, September 25, 2014. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze) “

The extensive resumes that leave little doubt both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash will eventually find their name plastered inside the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Yet, both Bryant and Nash enter the 2014-15 season with plenty to prove toward a skeptical general public.

The unanswered and pressing question: can Bryant and Nash both play effectively and stay healthy after staying ravaged last season by injuries? No one, including Bryant and Nash, know for sure. But they have provided enough signs this offseason to leave the Lakers cautiously optimistic about their durability.

“They both look really good and really healthy,” Lakers guard Jeremy Lin said Thursday at the Foot Locker in Westfield Mall at Culver City, both to promote his Adidas shoes and sign autographs for fans. That’s the biggest thing for us. Health is going to be a huge factor for us this upcoming season. They were moving well and looked much better than they did last year.”
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Kobe Bryant to participate in UnitedWay Homewalk

Kobe Bryant will soon embark on a challenge that is far more pressing than trying to prove he can morph back into an elite player following two major injuries.

The Lakers’ star will participate in the United Way’s Homewalk on Nov. 15 at Exposition Park as part of his ongoing effort to raise funds and awareness for reducing homelessness. Participants can join a 5k walk or run for a $20 registration fee.

Bryant and his wife Vanessa, launched their self-named foundation in the summer of 2011, which has included various initiatives in eradicating homelessness. They began began sponsoring My Friend’s Place, a nonprofit resource center on Hollywood Boulevard that offers free emergency services to homeless youth. Two years ago, Bryant visited the L.A. Mission and spent a night on skid row. He also hosted an event in Hollywood where he met with former U.S. president Bill Clinton, who heads the Clinton Global Initiative.

RELATED:

Lakers depth chart breakdown: Kobe Bryant


Lakers depth chart breakdown: Jeremy Lin

Lakers depth chart breakdown: Steve Nash

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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