With the Lakers not spending the opening weeks and months of the season floundering away and instead finding actual success, it means that their players have legitimate cases for All-League honors and individual awards. And no one has a better case for an award on the Lakers early in the season than Anthony Davis as the Defensive Player of the Year.
Riding the wave from his postseason performance, Davis has finally been shown the recognition he’s long deserved this season.
Consider this the introduction of a semi-regular column looking at where the Lakers stand when it comes to the most prominent individual awards. While this won’t be weekly and maybe not even monthly, it’ll be a subject we come back to at various times this season, particularly down the stretch of the regular season ideally.
Let’s take a look at a handful of the biggest awards and where the Lakers rank in those awards.
Defensive Player of the Year
AD has truly, objectively, been dominant on the defensive end of the court. The problem is often that dominance and talent on the defensive end doesn’t show itself statistically the same way it does on offense, so it doesn’t jump off the page as much.
This season, though, whether through the way of narrative or simply proper recognition at last, Davis is getting the praise he rightfully deserves.
As it stands, the biggest contender alongside AD for the award is Rudy Gobert. Owners of one of the top defenses in the league, the Wolves are going to be in the running for a number of awards.
Right now, though, it looks like it’s going to be a two-horse race for the award.
Sixth Man of the Year
The Laker with the best odds at an award is Austin Reaves. After his realignment to the bench, he’s flourished and while it’s spelled good things for the team, it also has put him in position to win the Sixth Man of the Year.
This is an award that fluctuates quite a bit during the season and it isn’t until the end of the year that the contenders become more clear. For example, Russell Westbrook was one of the frontrunners early in the season last year and, well, that didn’t pan out.
This season, Reaves’ competition is in the form of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Malik Monk right now, but it’s still early enough in the season that other names and players could emerge.
Most Valuable Player
The most ambitious one right now is LeBron James as MVP. While he already has one Most Valuable Player award this season, he probably isn’t going to double up. Despite having a truly remarkable season even not taking into account his age, there are a host of even more impressive seasons.
The early favorite for MVP, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, is Nikola Jokic with Luka Doncic a close second. Joel Embiid, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Giannis Antetokounmpo round out the top five. In fact, right now, AD has better odds than LeBron to win MVP, though both are distant long shots.
Clutch Player Award
The award that everyone forgets exists, LeBron has a bit of a chance here, too. Considering how he’s performed in fourth quarters this year, he’s in the running. This is such a wildly subjective award that it’s hard to determine frontrunner.
LeBron is in that group, but it’s like Damian Lillard is the favorite. Tyrese Haliburton and SGA are also in the running, too.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.