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  • Justin Vigil-Zuniga

Anthony Davis Aims For DPOY in Packed Pacific

Anthony Davis has been terrorizing inside scorers since entering the league in 2012.

Now with some elite teammates and coaches, Davis will have the chance to get out of the first round of the playoffs for the second time in his career. The Brow currently holds a 5-8 playoff record in his seven seasons in the league, with both series losses coming at the Infinity Stone-wielding hand of Golden State.

Davis also has his eyes set on a personal goal, winning Defensive Player of the Year.

"I want to be Defensive Player of the Year," Davis said in an interview with Yahoo Sports. "I think if I'm able to do that, I can help this team win. The offensive end will come around, but defensively, I want to hold myself, teammates, including LeBron, accountable in order for us to take on the challenge of being the best we can defensively.”

The Brow would be just the second Laker to win the award and the first in 32 years, should he reach his mark. Guard Michael Cooper is the only purple and gold player to ever hoist the trophy.

Davis will see a lot of intense competition for the award, mostly coming from division play. This season the Pacific Division will contain three of the seven active former DPOYs, one being on the Lakers and two more in the conference. While no one is expecting the likes of Dwight Howard and Tyson Chandler to return to their glory DPOY days, the rest of the competition is staggering with all players in their prime.

Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green and back-to-back defending champ Rudy Gobert will all be serious contenders for the award, and now that so many stars have settled in the Pacific, Davis will have to compete against Green and Leonard at least four times in the season. This is to say nothing of DPOY finalist and new Clipper forward Paul George as well.

The last five DPOYs have been awarded to Western Conference forwards in a dramatic shift for the trophy. Historically the East, long considered the more rugged and defensive-oriented of the conferences, was home to awardees. Before the current West streak, the award went to just two Western Conference players over the previous 22 years. With the balance of power shifted West, the DPOY has gone with it.

Davis’ career 10.5 RPG, 1.4 SPG and 2.4 BPG statline (with even more impressive numbers than his career averages in the last two seasons) gives him a clear edge on the over his competition. The Lakers will rely on Davis heavily in the post but will also need to be a better defensive team to help Davis achieve his first DPOY trophy.

Fortunately for Davis, the commitment to defense starts at the top this year. Head coach Frank Vogel led the Pacers to four consecutive top-four finishes in points allowed. Two-time All-NBA defensive-teamer Lionel Hollins also recorded two consecutive top five finishes in points allowed as head coach with Memphis. Nine-time All-NBA defensive-teamer Jason Kidd will have his say in the mix as well. The team should have some great defensive play this season with minds like this all on the sideline every night. It has been a long time since Lakers’ fans have seen this many good hires.

On the roster side of things, Davis will be seeing a lot of time at power forward to start the season, meaning he’ll play alongside board-dominant centers like Javale McGee and (hopefully) Dwight Howard, not to mention LeBron James flying in continuously for blocks and rebounds. McGee looked like a DPOY candidate early last season starting out his first 10 games with 3.4 blocks a night. He eventually slowed down and finished with a solid 2.0 BPG as well 7.5 RPG. Though a McGee block doesn’t fundamentally help Davis’ case, when looking at the big picture of team success in addition to Davis’ individual defensive brilliance, having excellent team defensive metrics helps his case.

AD has a real shot at DPOY and the stars may finally be aligned perfectly for the award to be his. While in the end he is focused on winning a championship foremost, he could pick up a DPOY award along the way for his trouble.

#NBA #Lakers #AnthonyDavis #JustinVigilZuniga

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