Can LeBron James and Anthony Davis Both Make 1st-Team All-Defense?
The challenge has been set.
"I want to make sure me and LeBron are on the All-Defensive team," Anthony Davis told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. The formerly stoic and steady seven-year veteran has found a sovereign voice in the past six months, continually asserting himself off the court.
He's publicly declared his displeasure with playing the 5 and, through his agent, Rich Paul, expressed his desire to test free agency in 2020 even though the Los Angeles Lakers just unloaded a treasure trove of assets to acquire him.
But issuing a challenge to the King, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, is something the Lakers may not have expected. NBA fans know better than to take something such as this lightly. It was just one season ago when Paul George similarly threw down the gauntlet to Russell Westbrook.
"I asked Russ at the start of this year if he had an All-Defensive team [selection] yet, and he said, 'No,'" George told Sam Amick of The Athletic. "And of course, my answer to that was, 'Why not?'"
On Jan. 19, B/R's Sean Highkin wrote: "Never before, though, has Westbrook defended like this. He is fourth among point guards in ESPN's defensive real plus-minus rankings. He's also leading the league in steals with 2.5 per game, besting his previous career high of 2.1 set in 2014-15."
It's hardly uncommon for teammates to finish on the All-Defensive first team. Davis achieved the feat with Jrue Holiday in 2017-18, and Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo did so just last season. Overall, it has been accomplished 38 times in 51 years, including in four of the previous five seasons.
But can James revive the effort that helped him earn six All-Defensive selections? (He ranks tied for second, with Tony Allen, among active players behind Chris Paul.) James was named to the first team five straight times from 2008-09 to 2012-13 and landed on the second team in 2013-14—so he's played five seasons since his last such honor.
James has over 56,000 regular-season and playoff minutes on his odometer. Can he still put it together for 82 games? Can Davis earn his fourth All-Defensive team accolade, and second first-team nod, after missing out last season?