Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
Contract: Five years, $189.9 million (early termination option in 2024-25)
Anthony Davis could be stinking it up at the moment, and bagging him for at least the next four years would still be a gigantic win for the Los Angeles Lakers. Future certainty trounces temporary ruts, and they now have security beyond LeBron James’ prime, assuming it ever ends.
Of course, Davis isn’t stinking it up. Any drop in his raw numbers mostly aligns with his decline in minutes. He’s still averaging 21.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.9 blocks while downing 56.9 percent of his twos and 36.1 percent of his triplesboth of which would be career highs.
This whole outside-shooting thing feels real. Davis has returned to solid ground after a mind-melting start, but if he continues to hover around league average behind the rainbow and near 50 percent from mid-range, no fewer than 27 to 28 of the NBA’s other teams might as well pack up and call it a season.
Oh, and then there’s his defense.
Other playersJoel Embiid, Rudy Gobert, Myles Turner, etc.have splashier counting stats and even on-off splits. Whatever. Davis should still be considered among the top two favorites, if not the absolute favorite, to win Defensive Player of the Year.
He continues to be everywhere, someone capable of defending everyone. Certain lineup combinations don’t tread water for the Lakers without him. His ability to switch and work from the outside in is invaluable to a rotation who’s top true-wing defender is a choice between Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Playoff LeBron. He is the rare player who deters shots from the three-point line up to the restricted area merely by being on the floor.
Simplified further: The Lakers are first in points allowed per possession and even stingier when Davis is on the court. They are, and will remain, fortunate he didn’t opt for a shorter deal that allowed him to re-explore free agency in the next year or twoor three.