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LeBron James Crowns Anthony Davis as the ‘Defensive Player of the Year’ in Epic Lakers Victory over Pistons


LeBron James launched the Defensive Player of the Year campaign for Anthony Davis after the Lakers’ win over the Pistons.

LeBron James used his final appearance in front of a microphone before the All-Star break — following a stress-free Los Angeles Lakers win over the lowly Detroit Pistons — to unofficially launch the Defensive Player of the Year campaign for Anthony Davis.

With Davis holding down the fort, the Lakers (29-26) — winners of five of their last six games and 10 of 15 overall — limited the hapless Pistons to 41.7% shooting. AD gobbled up anything and everything that came his way. In 28 minutes, Davis tallied 14 rebounds and six blocks, to go along with 20 points.

“He’s our Ray Lewis. Our captain. Our middle linebacker,” said Darvin Ham.

One rejection, in particular, encapsulated Davis’ unwavering, all-encompassing defensive prowess. Early in the third quarter, the Lakers coughed the ball up and largely stood in place, allowing Jaden Ivey to start a 3-on-1 break, flanked by Jalen Duren and Simone Fontecchio.

Advantage, Lakers.

Davis strategically cut off a lob to Duren and baited Ivey to step into his office. AD perfectly positioned, splattered the rookie’s layup attempt off the glass and snagged the rebound.

“Defensively, we’ve been on a string. And if anything breaks down, the Defensive Player of the Year cleans it up for us,” said LeBron, who added 25 points and eight assists.

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LeBron joked that the Lakers purposefully gave Davis a defensive challenge, just for kicks.

“We was testing him,” said James. “We turned the ball over and then absolutely nobody got back. And it was a 3-on-1 and we was testing if he was the Defensive Player of the Year or not, and he showed it.”

Even the always-modest Davis had to toot his own horn.

“Just one of many special plays I’ve had this year. Just trying to be a good defensive player. That’s all.”

AD ranks top-five in the NBA in rebounds (12.2) and blocks (2.5) per game. Despite a decade-plus of well-established defensive bona fides, Davis has never won DPOY — partially due to injuries.

This season, though, Davis has played 50 of the Lakers’ 55 games.

“I feel like I should have won it a couple of times, but didn’t,” AD said postgame. “At this point, I’m just trying to win. Continue to try to have a presence on the defensive end. If that seems to be in the plans for me to win it this year, then obviously it’ll be exciting for me to have one of those under my belt. But, I feel like I got hustled out of a couple of them in my career. So, it is what it is.”

AD could use the campaign boost. Davis (+5000) remains a confoundingly long shot for the award, trailing Bam Adebayo (+2400), rookies Victor Wembanyama (+2400) and Chet Holmgren (+2900), Derrick White (+2900), Jarrett Allen (+1000) and the heavy-favorite: three-time winner Rudy Gobert (-600).

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