Anthony Davis has been lying to himself for years. He thinks he's a power forward. Almost every team he has played for has been designed around that idea, not because it is true, but because he wants it to be true. Davis prefers playing power forward, so his teams bring in DeMarcus Cousins. They trade first-round picks for Omer Asik and spend precious cap space on JaVale McGee. The biggest question of this entire Los Angeles Lakers season was when Davis would cave and accept his fate as a center. The hope was that it would happen by the playoffs. The fear was that it would never happen at all. 

The reality is that it happened on the second night of the season. After a disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on opening night and a slog of a first half against the Utah Jazz that produced only 43 points, the Lakers made the move. Davis and LeBron James opened the third quarter with three guards -- Alex Caruso, Danny Green and Avery Bradley -- and the floor suddenly parted like the Red Sea. 

The Lakers scored 31 points in the quarter, which they won by 13 points. The real difference, though, came for James. He scored only 18 points on 7-of-19 shooting against the Clippers, largely because of how little space he had to operate. Plays like this were frequent when James shared the floor with both Davis and a second center. 

Four of the five Clippers on the floor here are in James' general vicinity, and it's not hard to see why. The spacing is atrocious. Because McGee is a complete non-shooting threat, James has to run the pick-and-roll with him. Davis acts as one of the spacers. He isn't much of a shooter either, and all three players not involved in the pick-and-roll are on the same side of the floor. With so much manpower near the action, the Clippers were able to smother James without abandoning McGee. 

The exact mechanisms that led to it changed, but the end result stayed the same. James, arguably the most dangerous driver in NBA history, was forced to make ill-advised passes out of the paint all night against the Clippers. 

Compare that with the second half against the Jazz. The Lakers ran exactly the same play midway through the third quarter, a basic side pick-and-roll with three shooters on the right side of the floor. The results speak for themselves. 

James practically walks his way to an uncontested layup. The superior shooting on the floor forces Utah to defend this pick-and-roll with only two players. Davis is so dangerous as a lob threat that Rudy Gobert, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, can't help off of him. Watch what happens when he does, this time on a basic spread pick-and-roll. 

A normal human being could not have caught that pass. A normal NBA center could not have caught that pass. A trained pterodactyl probably could not have caught that pass. But Anthony Davis caught that pass. 

The fact that he is perhaps the only sentient being in the universe that can do so changed the entire defensive equation for the Jazz. Stay at home against Davis and LeBron gets to moonwalk his way to the basket. Don't, and things like that happen. 

The Lakers spammed the Jazz into oblivion with variations of this play. At one point in the third quarter, they ran it four times in three minutes, scoring eight points in total. With the game in hand in the fourth quarter, they started to experiment. Observe: Anthony Davis with a head of steam. 

This about as basic as basketball strategy gets. James has run pick-and-roll with dozens of centers in his career, and he had plenty of success with Chris Bosh and Kevin Love on pick-and-pops just like this. But Bosh and Love simply took the open shot. Davis will too, some of the time. Some of the time, he will explode to the basket like he does here. And no defense in the NBA can be prepared for both, just as no defense in the NBA can defend James, Davis and three shooters at the same time. 

Every opponent the Lakers face is going to have to decide where they are most comfortable sacrificing, and most of them won't employ Gobert. The numbers, in the end, are exactly what the basketball world would have predicted. James started this game 4-of-9 from the field with Davis at power forward. He went 8-of-13 in the second half with Davis, and Dwight Howard, at center. He scored 12 points while racking up five assists and four rebounds in the third quarter alone. 

And as Frank Vogel revealed at his post-game press conference, Davis "was all for" the move to center when he broached it at halftime. The Lakers will be careful not to abuse this new development. Keeping Davis healthy for the playoffs is paramount, and he is still technically a free agent at the end of the season. If he insists on playing power forward, the Lakers have to acquiesce to an extent. 

But for six quarters, the Lakers acted as if the notion of Davis playing his proper position was an absolute non-starter. It might have cost them a game against the Clippers, and it could have cost them another against the Jazz. Now the coaching staff, the front office, and most importantly, Davis have all seen how devastating the alignment can be. Davis is a center, and now, it seems, he knows it.