Since the moment Anthony Davis donned the purple and gold, he was instantly the Lakers' best defender. Time has only solidified that position and performances like Davis' against the Clippers show why he is the defensive anchor for the team.
Whether guarding bigs in the paint or switching to ball handlers like James Harden, Davis held his own and got the better of those matchups throughout the game. He finished the night with three steals, one block and nine defensive rebounds, helping the Lakers end their four-game losing streak.
After the game, Darvin Ham made sure to highlight Davis' defensive performance.
"His ability to move his feet and not foul,” Ham said of what makes AD’s defense stand out. “They're going to throw a ton of fakes at you. PG, Kawhi, James, all those guys, and Russ, all those guys, Norm. They're a tough cover… It's a variety of guys but AD can switch on each and every guy I named and that's why, for me, he should be at the top of the list in terms of Defensive Player of the Year.
“Just his versatility to protect the rim, play in the in-between, show his hands, move his feet, guard out beyond the 3-point line, not foul and to force guys into difficult situations."
DPOY stuff from AD on the switch with PG.— Raj C. (@RajChipalu) January 8, 2024
Mirrors every move perfectly.
There's still plenty of time to discuss the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. However, according to Draft Kings, Rudy Gobert (-150) is still the runaway favorite, with Davis (+700) as the runner-up and rookie Chet Holmgren (+850) having the third-best odds.
Given his importance to the team, consistency, and versatility in guarding wings and bigs, it's hard to see how Gobert has had a better indidividual year and what Davis can do to strengthen his case.
Yet here we are, in a familiar place, witnessing Davis being underappreciated again.
In the past, the excuse was his availability but Davis has played in all but two games and while his offensive production can ebb and flow, his defensive play is as consistent as a treadmill.
We'll see what voters ultimately decide and how they’ll justify someone other than Davis winning it this year if they come to a different consensus. For now, the Lakers can rest assured that Davis being on their side helps clean up much of the defensive issues and with him leading this team, January can still be a turning point for the Lakers.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.