Whichever basketball gods are in charge of creating defenders indulged themselves when making new Lakers star Anthony Davis. He had a 7’6” wingspan at age 18 (there is a good chance that’s grown since then) and somehow maintained his speed and agility after his fabled eight-inch growth spurt in high school. Combine that with quick reflexes and excellent hand-eye coordination, and you have one of the best defensive players in the NBA, and a competitor on the precipice of the Defensive Player of the Year Award he seeks.
Davis now has more rim protection behind him than he’s ever had before, with Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee slated to handle most of the minutes at the center position. Their presence should give Davis increased freedom to venture out towards the perimeter, where he wreaks havoc with his speed and length.
His best defensive work should still come from the center position, though. Davis and LeBron James comprise a potentially devastating 4/5 combination that can play aggressively on the perimeter on the defensive end, without sacrificing much in the way of size. Let’s take a closer look at everything Davis will bring to the floor for the Lakers this year:
I recently asked Lakers fans who they thought was the best defensive player in franchise history. Michael Cooper’s came up quite a bit, as the team’s lone Defensive Player of the Year award winner. Kobe Bryant made 12 All-Defensive teams, tied for second-most in NBA history. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Rick Fox received some votes, along with players like Dwight Howard, Dennis Rodman, and Ron Artest, who did their best defensive work elsewhere.
Health and contractual status willing, Anthony Davis has the chance to be the definitive answer to that question when it’s all said and done.