Anthony Davis claims he won’t ever win DPOY: ‘The league doesn’t like me’

Mike Battaglino
4 Min Read
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis seems to have begrudgingly come to terms with the idea that he will never be named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, with the Los Angeles Lakers big man lamenting that he doesn’t know “what else to do.”

“I’ll never get it,” Davis told ESPN when asked about the award. “They’re not giving it to me. The league doesn’t like me. I’m the best defensive player in the league. I can switch 1 through 5. I can guard the pick-and-roll the best in the league, from a big standpoint. I block shots. I rebound.

“I don’t know what else to do. I’m over it. I’m just going to do what I got to do to help the team win and try to play for a championship. Accolades and individual awards, I’m done with those.”

Davis has been considered one of the best defenders in the league for much of his career, with four All-Defensive team honors to his credit. Yet he has never won Defensive Player of the Year, though he was runner-up in the voting in 2020 behind winner Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Last season, Davis did not even receive a vote from the panel of sportswriters and broadcasters who determine the award, which was won by Jaren Jackson Jr. of the Memphis Grizzlies. Now this season, despite posting 12.6 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.2 steals per game while making a career-high 76 appearances, Davis was not named a finalist for the award.

“I can block shots, I can help from the weak side, I can switch onto anybody, I can guard the pick-and-roll, I can guard the guard and get back on the big and break up the lob, I can guard the post, I can guard the pindown,” Davis told ESPN. “Whatever it is. Whatever it is defensively, I’m able to do.

“So, that’s my ability. My ability defensively is to do everything.”

Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat, Rudy Gobert of the Minnesota Timberwolves and rookie Victor Wembanyama of the San Antonio Spurs are this year’s finalists for what is now known as the Hakeem Olajuwon Trophy. Gobert is in line to win Defensive Player of the Year for a fourth time, and Kawhi Leonard also has taken it home twice during Davis’ career, which began in the 2012-13 season with the New Orleans Pelicans.

His latest defensive assignment is to try to slow down the Denver Nuggets and star Nikola Jokic in the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

Despite being swept by Denver in the 2023 Western Conference Finals, and the fact that the Lakers haven’t defeated the Nuggets since December 2022, Davis entered the series confident in his team’s chances, saying they’re “not ducking the smoke.”

It did look to be going well for Los Angeles at the start, as it led Game 1 on Saturday at halftime, but the Nuggets used a big third quarter on their way to a 114-103 victory. Jokic scored 32 points in the game, as did Davis, who also contributed 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Game 2 of the series is at Ball Arena on Monday.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.