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Lakers All-Star: ‘I’m the Best Defensive Player in the League’

Los Angeles Lakers All-Star Anthony Davis makes defensive play

Ask anybody what they think of Los Angeles Lakers hybrid big man Anthony Davis as a defender and they’ll tell you that the nine-time All-Star is one of the best in the business.

A four-time All-Defensive selection and three-time block champion, Davis has a rare blend of length (6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-6 wingspan), athleticism, and instincts. As a result, he’s more capable of guarding in space than many big men, yet remains a fearsome rim-protector.

However, despite his defensive capabilities, he’s never won a Defensive Player of the Year Award. He hasn’t even been nominated for the award since 2019-20. A 12-year NBA veteran, Davis has had five top-10 finishes in Defensive Player of the Year voting. In just two of those seasons (2017-18 and 2019-20), Davis was a finalist for the award.

Anthony Davis: ‘I’m the Best Defensive Player in the League’

On Monday, the NBA announced the finalists for the 2023-24 Defensive Player of the Year Award. Davis wasn’t named, but Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert, San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama, and Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo were.

Frankly, Gobert and Wembanyama have long been expected to be listed as finalists. Gobert is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and anchored the league’s top defense in 2023-24. Wembanyama, a rookie, led the league in blocks per game. The addition of Adebayo was the brow-raiser. Yet, he has many of the same capabilities as Davis and the Heat had a top-five defense.

After the Defensive Player of the Year finalists were revealed, Davis told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, “I’ll never get it.”

“They’re not giving it to me,” he continues, clearly perturbed by the situation. “The league doesn’t like me. I’m the best defensive player in the league. I can switch 1 through 5… guard the pick-and-roll the best in the league, from a big standpoint. I block shots… rebound.”

Davis proclaiming that he’s the best defensive player in the league is surprising. However, he has every right to feel that way. He’s more mobile than Gobert, stronger than Wembanyama, and has better shot-blocking instincts than Adebayo.

A Complex Voting Process

To his point, Davis is no longer a popular player in the league.

While he was with the New Orleans Pelicans, fans and the media already began to sour on him. Furthermore, with the Lakers often stumbling and bumbling to the playoffs, his lack of durability has been highlighted. Since joining the Lakers, he’s only played at least 60 games in two seasons. This is the first season that he’s played at least 70 games.

While this shouldn’t have any bearing on him winning an NBA Award, it does. NBA Award voting is a complex process because it doesn’t only take a player’s in-season performance into account. Their history, team success, and popularity also influence award voting.

In Davis’ case, these factors have led to him becoming underrated. Few players can average 24.7 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game as Davis has since being traded to the Lakers.

“I don’t know what else to do,” Davis says, lamenting the lack of hardware in his trophy case.

“I’m over it.”

“I’m just going to do what I got to do to help the team win and try to play for a championship,” he blazons. “Accolades and individual awards, I’m done with those.”

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