May 29, 2024

The numbers in the preseason mean so little, the sample sizes smaller than the puddles of sweat generated, that teams are generally just trying to make it to the starting line healthy.

But hidden in their six-game schedule, the Lakers have found some intensity and might have worked their way into an unexpected offensive benefit.

With the Lakers fairly locked in to one another here in training camp, with the core pieces building off of what they accomplished last season, maybe Anthony Davis can be more of a hub for the Lakers with his playmaking — and not just his scoring.

“I don’t want to give AD credit [for] passing the ball,” Austin Reaves said with a grin Tuesday. “… He’s a good passer. He can actually do it. I hate to say it, but AD can do everything. That’s why he’s one of the most talented guys in the league.

“Now, with the roster we have, we have the ability to space the floor. Obviously, AD’s high priority for scouting stuff for other teams. You know, once he makes those plays, it’s just going to get a lot easier for him too.”

For a player with the skills to do it all, Davis hasn’t always had the assists to show it. Last season, he averaged 2.6 assists per game — a number slightly higher than his career average. But getting that number up is a priority this preseason.

“I kinda broke down to the team where I like to see guys on the perimeter when I’m in the post,” Davis said Tuesday. “And, they’ve been there and been able to catch the ball and knock down shots. Just playing with the pass, though. We want to up our average from last year in assists per game as a team. And you just do that by making the right plays and guys being confident in their shot.”

Two of the shooters the Lakers added, Taurean Prince and Gabe Vincent, spoke after the team practiced Wednesday on the Pechanga Reservation ahead of its final regular-season game Thursday.

The plan is for the Lakers to mostly mimic a regular-season game in their finale, with Prince saying there’s a lot of work remaining.

The Lakers' Taurean Prince shoots past Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes in a preseason game.

The Lakers are counting on the shooting of Taurean Prince this season.

(Ryan Sun / Associated Press)

“I mean everything. Nothing is set in stone,” Prince said Wednesday. “A lot of room to get better, not only before Denver but throughout the season. We’ll have to make adjustments and get better as we go. That’s all about being a pro and adapting.”

Prince is hitting 47.8% from three and is a candidate for a starting spot, a case that’s only been strengthened by Jarred Vanderbilt’s lingering foot injury.

Prince said fitting in with a new team hasn’t been an issue for him in the slightest.

“I’m super happy. It’s not rocket science,” he said Wednesday. “It’s just being in the right place at the right time, reading my defender, the way they help and getting into open spots and being ready to shoot the ball.”

Vincent, who has missed time with back tightness, did participate in Wednesday’s light practice and is trending toward a return.

He said the vibe among the Lakers is a singular focus on making the right play — a trait common among good teams — and one head coach Darvin Ham has said starts at the top with LeBron James and Davis

“And our two captains, they identify with that and they’re two of the top examples of that, league-wide,” Ham said Tuesday. “They’re guys that come out and just try to play the right way. That’s been Bron’s MO from the entire time he’s been in the league. And the same with A.

“Just doing things on both sides of the ball. It’s not so much making it about all offense or shot attempts. It’s just making the right basketball play for what’s not an extremely talented ballclub and teammate they have around them.”

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