The Los Angeles Lakers currently boast the fifth-best defense in terms of rating (points per 100 possessions) and owe that in large part to Anthony Davis’ ability to impact the game defensively all over the court. LeBron James sure seems to agree on that front.
The Lakers tweeted out a highlight reel of Davis’ best plays made on defense so far this season — along with Mike Trudell of “The Official Lakers Podcast” making the argument for Davis being the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year — and James quote-tweeted that to show support of his superstar teammate:
Frankly, it’s hard (if not outright impossible) to disagree with James on this one. Davis’ ability to guard the perimeter and the rim at elite levels at his size allows the Lakers to employ any number of strategies and lineups that wouldn’t normally work.
If Frank Vogel wants the Lakers to suffocate opponents with size, cool, Davis can slide up to the four spot and either JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard can boost the Lakers’ ability to deter opponents from scoring at the rim. If the Lakers want to be a little more explosive offensively, Davis can slide down to the five and the team still has one of the game’s absolute best at that position both offensively and defensively, making them all the more dangerous on either end of the court.
Yes, the Lakers do have a more conducive roster to success defensively outside of Davis than they have over the last six years or so, but make no mistake about it: Davis is responsible for the team’s improvement on that end of the court in ways that only precious few players could impact a team’s defense, and he deserves credit for that.
Whether he’ll get it is another thing altogether, though.
Typically, players who win Defensive Player of The Year aren’t as skilled offensively as Davis, and thus get outsized credit for their defensive impact because it’s more noticeable. Davis being as good as he is on both sides of the ball could actually hinder the league-wide credit he could get — as dumb as that might sound.
Hopefully, if Davis keeps up this level of play and the Lakers maintain this kind of defensive effort, he’ll get proper credit regardless of what he offers on the other end of the court. At the very least, it certainly helps to have one of the loudest voices in the NBA on your side.