Anthony Davis is not tempering expectations when it comes to his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers. He has already said he sees the team playing in the NBA Finals this season, and he has just as high of standards for his own individual campaign.
But while Davis said he felt honored that his co-star LeBron James went to Lakers management and said that Davis needs to be a “focal point” of the team’s offense this season, Davis told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that it’s the other end of the floor where he wants to make his impact felt most:
“I want to be Defensive Player of the Year,” Davis told Yahoo Sports. “I think if I’m able to do that, I can help this team win. The offensive end will come around, but defensively, I want to hold myself, teammates, including LeBron, accountable in order for us to take on the challenge of being the best we can defensively. In doing so, we’ll have a good chance of winning every night. I want to make sure me and LeBron are on the All-Defensive Team. And for me personally, I just want to be the Defensive Player of the Year. If we’re able to hold teams under 100 [points], which is probably unrealistic but it should be our goal, I think we’ll have a shot at winning the title.”
Davis has come close to winning DPOY before, placing third in both that and MVP voting in 2018, but has never actually been honored with the award. As he notes, this could be the season that changes.
Look up and down the Lakers’ roster. Seriously, give it a nice perusal. Other than Davis, how many players are consistently helpful defenders? Danny Green? Jared Dudley? Maybe Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee in certain situations? Possibly Avery Bradley if things go right?
However one rates it out, it’s clear that the Lakers aren’t a team that one would look at as a potential defensive powerhouse without Davis’ presence, but that’s how good he is on the defensive end when he’s engaged. Davis is an active and terrifying rim protector who can use his lateral speed and endless arms to envelop guards on switches. If he wants to be, he can be a Band-Aid for any of this roster’s shortcomings on defense.
And if the Lakers are a decent team and boast a top-10 to top-15 defense? Much of the credit will be given — and due — to Davis, and it might be easy to start the narrative with voters that his addition is what keyed a turnaround on that end for L.A.
Obviously there is still a long way to go before we start seriously talking about end-of-season awards voting, but between this and his continued emphasis on improving as a 3-point shooter, Davis is focused on the right things to make both himself and this Lakers team great. If it all comes together for him — and the roster around him — the Lakers have the potential to compete with anyone, which could lead to Davis getting the awards and recognition he’s seeking.