Davis notched seven blocks to go with his 28 points and 13 rebounds in the Lakers 117-105 victory against Ja Morant and Memphis, making another statement as he eyes his first Defensive Player of the Year honor.
“I just want us to get back to being the defensive team that we are,” Davis told reporters after the game, per Bill Oram of The Athletic, “and I know that starts with me with a defensive mindset. I think we did a good job of that tonight. I know we had some lapses, but we’re going to continue to get better and I’m going to continue to get better and try to position ourselves to be the No. 1 defensive team in the league.”
Davis has been named to the NBA All-Defense second-team twice and first-team once. He wouldn’t mind adding the DPOY to his collection.
“I’m not playing defense for that, but it is appealing. I mean, that award, I would love to have that award several times before I retire — which is not soon,” Davis told ESPN. “[I am] just trying to set a standard for one, myself, and two, my team, on the defensive end and the rest of the guys will follow. … I’m talking to guys, covering for guys and I think if I continue to do that I put myself in position to win that award.
“But I just want us to get back to being the defensive team that we are and I know that starts with me with a defensive mindset.”
Frank Vogel: Anthony Davis is Best Defensive Player in the NBA
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel did not hold back when asked about Davis’ big night and what makes him special.
“His ability to switch out and mix it up in transition, all of those are areas he impacts the game,” Vogel said. “He’s the best defender in the league, simplest way to put it.”
Davis’ Los Angeles co-star LeBron James echoed those sentiments from his head coach.
“He does everything,” James said of Davis. “He’s able to protect the rim, he’s able to guard in the post, he’s able to switch out to guards. He’s able to block shots when guys are shooting floaters and runners. Get steals. I mean, he does everything defensively for us. That’s why he’s Defensive Player of the Year. He just does everything for us, it’s not one thing he doesn’t do well defensively.”
Lakers Still Seeking Peak on Defensive End
While the Lakers played well on the defensive end with Davis and James leading the way, they were far from perfect. The Lakers lapsed in the third quarter, allowing the Grizzlies to scored 36 points, narrowing a 25-point lead to single digits. James is ready to see his squad consistently reach their defensive potential.
“I mean, we’ve been close to it,” he said. ‘We’ve had great stretches. More great than not, but we’re getting back to it. We understand every team that we play is gonna play great basketball versus us. They look forward to that matchup, and it’s up to us to just try and take teams out of what they do well.”