Anthony Davis has been every bit the All-Star player the Los Angeles Lakers hoped he would be when they traded for him during the 2019 NBA offseason.
He leads the team in scoring (26.6) and rebounding (9.2), but arguably his defense has been the most impressive part of his game during the 2019-20 NBA season.
The numbers are there as he ranks third in the league in blocks (2.4) and 14th in steals (1.6), but his impact stretches well beyond that. Davis has shown the ability to guard every position this season, locking down bigs in the post while also switching out on guards on the perimeter and stifling them as well.
Heading into his seventh consecutive All-Star Game, Davis is the runaway favorite to win 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. But in an interview with Dave McMenamin of ESPN, Davis deflected away that thinking by putting that on the media who votes:
“That’s for you guys. I mean, I try to do the best I can. I saw [Kendrick Perkins]… he tweeted something out and he screenshot it and texted to me and said, ‘Now go get it.’ I just try to go out there and no matter the matchup, I feel I can guard one through five. We can switch it all, switch everything on pick-and-rolls. “
Davis would go on about his mindset on defense, noting that he doesn’t like when anyone scores on him and takes pride in making things difficult on anyone he is guarding:
“I take pride in my defense and I don’t want nobody scoring on me, but at the same time knowing players are gonna make tough shots. If I can make you shoot a tough shot and it goes in… hats off to you, but I don’t wanna give you anything easy.”
Davis is one of the few players in the league whose impact on defense can be seen clearly when watching the game. There have been multiple games this season where he has gotten a block, steal, or stop to clinch the game for the Lakers and it has been on every different type of player.
Davis truly has the ability to guard every position on the court and barring something unforeseen, him winning Defensive Player of the Year seems like a foregone conclusion.
There are some very legitimate questions about the team’s ability to consistently create offense outside of Davis and LeBron James, especially in the 2020 NBA playoffs. But having Davis on the team makes their defensive potential higher than any other team could hope to match.