After a fantastic 2019-20 season, should Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers be the Defensive Player of the Year?
Going into the 2019-2020 season, it was speculated that Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers could be the front runner in both the Most Valuable Player award along with the Defensive Player of the Year award.
While it is almost certain that MVP is out of the picture for AD this season, DPOY is still a real possibility. Currently, it seems that Giannis Antetokounmpo might be the one to steal the MVP and DPOY awards both from Laker players.
As of now, Giannis and LeBron are neck and neck in contention for the MVP award and Giannis, Rudy Gobert, and Anthony Davis are neck and neck for DPOY. Right now it is anyone’s race to win and it could really go either way.
When taking a deeper look at the stats it makes it an enough tougher comparison. Also, like voters we will have to take into account that Giannis has played much fewer minutes this season than AD, however, when he is on the court he is asked to do much more defensively than Davis.
Davis is currently on a Lakers roster that is star-studded on the defensive end. With the Lakers entire starting five known to be defensive stoppers, steals and blocks are much harder to come by for Davis although he still leads the Lakers in both steals and blocks. On the other hand, Giannis does not lead the Bucks in either category. Donte DiVincenzo leads the team in steals while Brook Lopez leads the team in blocks.
For the sake of fairness, we will be using the per 36 minutes of each player to take out the argument that Giannis plays fewer minutes than AD. When looking at the per 36-minute stats, Giannis averages 16.0 rebounds (13.3 of them defensive), 1.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game with a defensive rating per 100 possessions of 96, a defensive rebounding percentage of 34.5%, a steal percentage of 1.5%, and a block percentage of 2.9%.
While Davis averages 9.9 rebounds (7.5 of them defensive), 1.6 steals, and 2.6 blocks a game a defensive rating per 100 possessions of 101, a defensive rebounding percentage of 22.1%, a steal percentage of 2.1% and a block percentage of 6.2%.
When it comes down to the comparison between Giannis and AD it all comes down to if you value the wide margin of rebounds between the two over the edge that AD has over Giannis in both blocks and steals.
There are many voters who also have Rudy Gobert ranked over Anthony Davis for DPOY as well. The comparison between Gobert and Davis will be a little more difficult to make. Gobert plays the center position and has absolutely no outside game. As a result of this, he is around the basket for most of the game. That means that more rebounds are coming his way and he is more often in a better position to block a shot than Davis would be. Despite this, we will break down the stats the same way as we did between AD and Giannis.
This year, Gobert averages 14.3 rebounds a game (10.7 of them defensive), 0.8 steals a game, and 2.1 blocks a game per 36 minutes. He has a defensive rating of 103 per 100 possessions, a rebounding percentage of 31.3%, a steal percentage of 1.1%, and a block percentage of 4.8%.
Yet again, Gobert has much better rebounding stats than Davis, however, outside of that Davis has had a better year statistically in both steals and blocks.
It seems that this year’s defensive player of the year award will come down to voters’ preference which likely will not be a good thing for Davis. If I had to guess I would assume that Giannis will be going home with both the MVP and the DPOY award despite Lakers players having very good cases to bring home both awards.
If Davis and LeBron are snubbed hopefully they will be able to use it as motivation and if they see Giannis in the finals they will be able to get the revenge and bring home the most important trophy of them all in an NBA season.