The last time the Los Angeles Lakers rostered the NBA MVP was in 2008 when the late Kobe Bryant won the award. Their last time rostering the Defensive Player of the Year goes back even further to Michael Cooper in 1987.
They could have both next season.
ESPN released its list of predictions for the league’s various season awards on August 22 and Davis’ name shows up not once but twice, first ranking 10th in the MVP Race.
Davis, 30, averaged 25.9 points on a career-best 62.7% true shooting with 12.5 rebounds (also a career-high), and 2.6 assists last season. Only three other players have ever produced a similar stat line over an entire season, per Stathead: Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, and Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.
All three players have MVP awards to their credit with Antetokounmpo and Jokic both winning the award twice.
They both also won in seasons where they produced stat lines similar to Davis’.
The biggest difference has been availability. None of the other three players made fewer than Antetokounmpo’s 72 appearances in 2018-19 while Davis has not made more than 62 appearances (2019-20) since the 2017-18 season.
Los Angeles won the championship that season, though, so an even healthier Davis could lead to MVP considerations. A member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, winning an MVP and has even become a bit of an expectation from one of his former NBA peers in Hall of Fame big man Kevin Garnett on “Ticket & The Truth” presented by Showtime Basketball.
“I’m expecting Anthony Davis to win MVP in these next two years or so, real s***,” Garnett said on the August 14 episode of the podcast. “If not this year, definitely next year, straight up.”
Garnett also called for Davis to assume the mantle of “best player in the league”.
Davis could earn that distinctive moniker if he follows through on ESPN’s other prediction.
Anthony Davis Could Be First Laker DPOY Since 1987
Davis ranks much higher on ESPN’s voting for Defensive Player of the Year, which Cooper won en route to the Lakers winning the championship in 1986-87. Cooper appeared in all 82 games, that season perhaps again putting a potential damper on Davis’ prospects given his injury history.
He checks in at sixth on ESPN’s list, slotting in between Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green and Rudy Gobert of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Davis is an NBA champion, a four-time All-NBA pick, a four-time All-Defensive selection, and a three-time blocks leader in addition to his aforementioned accolades. But he has never won Defensive Player of the Year despite being recognized by his peers as one of the most talented players in the league.
He could change that next season, health permitting.
The only players who have ever won both MVP and DPOY in the same season are Antetokounmpo, Michael Jordan, and Hakeem Olajuwon, potentially putting Davis in elite company if he did it.
LeBron James Fails to Make Any Awards Predictions Lists
While Davis made ESPN’s awards predictions list twice, LeBron James did not show up in any of the voting. Part of that could be a continuation of last season’s MVP voting that saw James fail to garner a single MVP vote for the first time in his 20-year career.
James, 38, averaged 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists last season. But only made 55 appearances as injuries struck at different points.
A healthy start to the campaign could get him back on the list.