Los Angeles Lakers superstar big man Anthony Davis is one of the most talented players in the NBA and while his offensive skills are excellent, it is the defensive side of the ball where he is an absolute game changer. His ability to guard basically every position and protect the rim is something that very few players in the history of the league can match.
Davis has looked much more like himself this season after the injury plagued last two years he has had and that has really showed itself on the defensive end. Davis has done his best to protect the rim and control the glass, but with him being the lone big man on the court most of the time, it is still different from his peak during the Lakers’ championship run.
Davis recently spoke about those differences following the Lakers’ loss on Monday to the Utah Jazz. The big man noted that playing the power forward spot with JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard behind him allowed him to be more of a roamer, which he can’t do as much with this current Lakers team, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“It was a little different because I was able to roam a lot. I was playing the 4 then, JaVale was playing the 5 and Dwight [Howard] was playing the 5, so guarding the perimeter and knowing I got them guys behind me or weak-side helps, getting blocks on the weak side. Now when I’m at the 5, I’m the one in action – pick-and-rolls, one guarding the post, things like that. We were flying around, we were really good defensively. We’re really good defensively this year as well. I think roles just changed a little bit as far as me as far as positions. In ’19-20 I was a roamer where I can be on whoever the 4 is and roam around and help protect everyone. It’s tough for me to do that when I’m guarding the 5.”
Davis has undoubtedly done everything he can in his role and is really that final line of defense, but having that other big makes a huge difference. Aside from the stars like Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, Davis has to bang down low with the likes of Steven Adams, Jusuf Nurkic and Jonas Valanciunas which makes it much more difficult to be that menace in help defense.
While it is a shift, Davis has still been excellent this season averaging 10.3 rebounds, his most as a Laker, as well as 2.0 blocks and 1.6 steals. He is still that defensive anchor but is making the necessary adjustments in this different role while still making an impact.
Davis believes Lakers have lost their defensive intensity
The Lakers as a whole have been solid defensively, especially to start the season, but things have fallen off the past few games and Davis has noticed.
Davis spoke about his belief in the Lakers being able to turn things around after the slow start, but noted that he believes the team has lost its defensive intensity. This is even more frustrating as L.A. has slowly begun figuring things out on offense.
But until the Lakers can get their offense and defense clicking at the same time, they will continue to struggle to win games consistently.
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