Anthony Davis fed up with not winning Defensive Player of the Year: 'The league doesn't like me'

Anthony Davis has been one of the NBA's best defenders since the day he first set foot on a court in 2012.

This season will mark his 12th without a Defensive Player of the Year trophy. And he's fed up.

The Los Angeles Lakers center sounded off on the award on Monday in an interview with ESPN's Dave McMenamin published Monday. More specifically, he sounded off on having never won it.

"I'll never get it," Davis said. "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 not among DPOY finalists

Davis' comments were in response to the end-of-season award nominees announced Sunday. The league announced three finalists for each of the seven individual awards including MVP, Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

Rudy Gobert, Victor Wembanyama and Bam Adebayo are the three finalists for Defensive Player of the Year. Adebayo's a four-time All-Defensive team member and consistently one of the league's top defenders.

The nomination is familiar territory for Gobert, who won DPOY three times in four seasons while protecting the rim for the Utah Jazz. Wembanyama — the favorite to win Rookie of the Year — is a generational defender who projects to contend for the award regularly throughout his career.

The same was said for Davis when he joined the New Orleans Pelicans as the No. 1 pick in 2012 out of Kentucky. At the time, Davis' offensive game was raw. He'd yet to develop into the 20-plus points per game scorer with 3-point range that he's evolved into as a mature NBA player. But his defensive prowess was unquestioned.

Anthony Davis is tired of not winning Defensive Player of the Year. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Anthony Davis is tired of not winning Defensive Player of the Year. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Davis won Final Four Most Outstanding Player while leading Kentucky to the 2012 NCAA championship despite scoring just six points on a 1-of-10 effort in the national title game. It was his 16 rebounds, six blocks and three steals in that win over Kansas that made him such an enticing prospect.

In 12 NBA seasons, he's largely delivered on that promise. He's a three-time block champion and four-time All-Defensive team selection. This season, he averaged 2.3 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. He did so while playing a career-high 76 games.

Does Davis have a DPOY case?

Does that add up to DPOY consideration? Davis clearly believes so.

"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 McMenamin.

"Whatever it is. Whatever it is defensively, I'm able to do. So, that's my ability. My ability defensively is to do everything."

Meanwhile, the advanced metrics case for Gobert winning his fourth DPOY is strong, especially when compared to Davis. Gobert led the NBA in defensive win shares, a metric that takes all countable defensive stats into consideration and approximates a player's total defensive value to his team.

Davis ranked 80th in the league in defensive win shares. Adebayo ranked seventh, and Wembanyama ranked 59th. The metric's not perfect, obviously. Davis is considerably better defensively than many of the 79 players ranked ahead of him. There aren't 58 better defenders in the league than Wembanyama.

But Gobert achieved his ranking while leading a Timberwolves team that ranked first in the league in defensive rating. Like he did in Utah, he elevates his team's defense as a whole. The Lakers, meanwhile, ranked 17th.

Gobert's case is clearly considerably stronger than Davis', and voters agreed.

But that doesn't mean Davis shouldn't be making his own case. And with his Lakers facing a 1-0 playoff hole against the reigning champion Denver Nuggets, every bit of fire and motivation counts.