Through the first quarter of the 2019-20 NBA season, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers have an NBA-best 20-3 record that has been fueled by their defense.
While all of the focus is on the team’s goal of winning the 2020 NBA Finals, winning also results in individual awards.
As the Lakers could realistically win 3-4 individual awards if they maintain this level of play, Davis is the favorite for the 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award now.
For head coach Frank Vogel, it is clear who should win the award, according to Tania Ganguli of Los Angeles Times:
“I think he can and will win defensive player of the year this year,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “I think there’s no one in the league like him defensively.”
With a rare ability to defend centers and guards, Davis discussed the adjustment he has had to make now:
“I think the biggest thing for me that was different is the way the game has changed guarding 4s [power forwards],” Davis said. “A lot of people run the corner action where they put the 4 in the corner, they set a pindown and now I’m chasing and being in pick-and-rolls where I’m guarding the ball instead of guarding a screener.”
While the Lakers are currently third in defensive rating behind the Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets, they have been able to get key stops en route to impressive wins.
Although there was slippage when Avery Bradley suffered a hairline fracture in a non-weight bearing bone of his right leg, Davis took it upon himself to set the tone defensively.
Despite dealing with flu-like symptoms during the team’s three-road game road trip, Davis and the Lakers held both the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz to under 100 points.
Although Davis has dealt with some nagging injuries along the way in Year 1 with the Lakers, his defense has been the one constant. However, he recently shared he has found a rhythm on offense, which is frightening news for opponents.
Through 22 games, Davis is averaging 26.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 steals, and 2.7 blocks.