Anthony Davis wants to win Defensive Player of the Year and thinks that goal will enable him to help the Lakers win.
After Los Angeles traded for the former Pelicans star, LeBron James told management he wanted Davis to be the focus of Los Angeles's offense. The 6'11" forward told Yahoo Sports that he was flattered by James wanting him to be the focal point of the team's offense but still wants the NBA's top defensive honor.
“I want to be Defensive Player of the Year,” Davis told 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. In doing so, we’ll have a good chance of winning every night. I want to make sure me and LeBron are on the All-Defensive Team. And for me personally, I just want to be the Defensive Player of the Year. If we’re able to hold teams under 100 [points], which is probably unrealistic but it should be our goal, I think we’ll have a shot at winning the title.”
Davis, 26, was the focal point during his seven-seasons in New Orleans and while in college at Kentucky. While the Pelicans will now place that burden on rookie Zion Williamson, Davis said he feels ready to resume the role in Los Angeles and do the "heavy lifting."
“I’ve kind of been a focal-point player my whole career, especially in New Orleans. But first off, to have a guy like LeBron, someone of his caliber, go tell management and ownership and the coaches that he wants me to be the focal point is an honor,” Davis told Yahoo Sports. “I know what comes with that, and that’s a lot of heavy lifting. I want to be able to do that. I think I have the capabilities of doing that. And obviously, with the team’s support, it’s going to be a lot easier on me. We have a great team.”
The Lakers also signed Demarcus Cousins this offseason but lost the big man when he tore his left ACL on Aug. 12 while working out in Las Vegas. The Lakers had signed Cousins to a one-year deal in July to join James and Davis after the team missed out on top target Kawhi Leonard.
In light of Cousins' injury, Los Angeles then picked up Dwight Howard in a deal that Davis reportedly had significant influence over. Howard's presence will hopefully give Davis more freedom outside of a true center role.
The Lakers will open the season against Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Clippers on Oct. 22 at Staples Center.