A great scorer, dropping 25+ ppg since 2016, and having the smooth ability to pump the net full of buckets has always been easy for Anthony Davis – but his ability to stop teams from running loose in the lane, and shut down opponents bigs has also been incredible. The 27 year old has been a true beast under the rim both with the ball and without. He wrecked teams in college, playing for Kentucky – back in 2011, he had a massive 4.65 blocks /game average at just 18 years old, showing his positioning when defending has been great since day one. His game is beautiful, the way he changes shots is awesome to watch, with so much length and athleticism – he quickly became one of the best defending bigs one on one.
A player’s defensive value is extremely difficult to gauge, but individual defense cannot be overrated – as one guy clogging things up can impact the opponents game-plan. His play makes a huge difference on whether a shot is being made or missed when guys are closest to the basket, and Davis comes to play as soon as the game starts, as the 27 year old has been a huge key to the Lakers’ success this season. He has been the most impactful defender of the team, even with LeBron James on his front-court as well, last season LA was giving up 113.5 ppg, compared to this season’s 106.9 ppg.
This directly correlates to Davis joining the team.
He has been the primary defensive anchor on the Lakers, and that’s even with teams trying to pull Davis from the paint – to guard on stretch 4’s and 5’s. He has been doing more than his job, as he can body guys up, when down low, and not lose his position when they start leaning into him, as well as get up when they explode to the rim. Davis is one of the NBA’s most disruptive bigs down low, and his size makes him a tough matchup for wings to score against, at 6-10. He has made all defensive team 3x, in 2018, 2017, and 2015, with players like Rudy Gobert, HOFer Tim Duncan, and Giannis Antetokounmpo – who are all great defensive minded players themselves. There is no question his defensive ability on the court.
Davis has long been one of the best rim protectors, as a shot blocker and as a deterrent around the basket, and he brings 6-10, 255lbs of speed, power, and elite defensive play. His defensive play has led the NBA in blocks /game on 3 different occasions, and has averaged less than 2bpg only one time in 8 years playing, his rookie season – and Davis was still swatting 1.8bpg, at 19 years old. He also has 5 seasons with 2.4 blocks /game or higher, numbers like those are similar to the likes of Moses Malone, Robert Parish, and Dwight Howard. He has been superb on the Lakers defense this season, being their best shot blocker as expected.
And not only does he swat shots, but his vision is great, with 2 seasons landing in the top 20 in steals. Davis has gotten even better with his hands to pick off errant passes and get steals over the last 3 seasons, his 1.5 steals /game confirms. He has been like a hawk watching the ball movement, with a quick ability to pick off lazy passes from the perimeter trying to make their way to the paint, and he is currently 15th in the league in steals per game has 16 games of 2 steals or more and 2 blocks in a game, so far this season. He also boasts a career 103 defensive rating, and because he is so versatile he doesn’t get destroyed like many bigs when getting pulled out to guard the wing.
He hasn’t made playoffs a lot in his 7 seasons – but his numbers have been even better in postseason play. Getting 23 steals, and 33 blocks in 13 postseason games – we will see what he does with the Lakers heading to the playoffs this year, alongside James – I am expecting great play and a lot of problems. Come the playoffs, he could be matched up vs the likes of Zion Williamson, Kristaps Porzingis, and Rudy Gobert – all who are very hardy covers – but I believe Davis can handle the job that will be needed.
For my money, Anthony Davis is best defender in the game – he runs hard, has scary length, and is a huge asset as a blocker and he never takes a play off. He is our 10StarPicks defensive Player of the Year!