With all the hype surrounding the MVP discussion this year you see the similar names up there. James Harden, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry are the names at the top of these MVP talks and deservingly so. Especially Harden when you consider what he’s been doing this season. However lost in the shuffle is another guy putting in work on the court, and that’s Anthony Davis.
The Brow and Boogie (Demarcus Cousins) had been leading the Pelicans to one of its best years in a while until Cousins went down for the season right before the all-star break. However once Cousins went down it seemed like Davis took over the slack. In the 13 games since Boogie’s injury the Pelicans are 8-5 but have recently gotten hot as they’ve reeled off 7 straight wins. And the focal point in all these wins is Anthony Davis. Heading into Wednesday’s matchup against the Spurs, Davis had averaged 35.9 ppg, 12.8 rpg and just over 2 blocks per game over a 10 game stretch. In the game against the Suns earlier this week he put up 52 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and had 5 blocks. Two games before that he put up 45 points, 17 rebounds, 5 blocks and 5 assists. The game before that one he notched 42 and 15 against the Lakers. And two games before that he had 44 and 17 against the Nets. Davis is playing at a level right now that is unlike anything we’ve seen so far this season. So why is he not being talked about more?
The way the league has molded over the past decade, the traditional big man is getting phased out. Gone are the back to the basket type guys, as now it’s seen as a disadvantage on offense if your center can’t step out and hit a few jump shots. Today’s 7 footers are even stepping back beyond the three point line. A big reason for this is that the pace of the game has picked up from recent years. Teams are scoring over 100 points a game with ease. This style bodes well for guards and wing players which is exactly why they’ve dominated the MVPs over the last few years as compared to the early 2000s when big men like Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan were winning the award. Recent winners include Curry, Westbrook, Durant and LeBron. Since 2004 only one big man has won the prestigious MVP award and that was Dirk Nowitzki in 2006. In that year Dirk averaged just over 24 points and just under 9 rebounds a game. Davis’ numbers on the year this season are much better than those. AD is averaging 28.2 ppg which is second in the league behind James Harden, as well as being 7th in the league in rebounding at 11 per game. He’s also 1st in the league in blocks per game since Kristaps Porzingis is out for the year with a knee injury.
With Demarcus Cousins done for the year that means the sole heart of this Pelicans team is Anthony Davis. They go as he goes and will go as far as he takes them. They currently sit in 6th place in a tough western conference and are only a few games back of the 3 seed. Outside of Davis the Pelicans have a mix of solid role players but no set #2 option on the team. If Davis can lead the Pelicans to the playoffs while continuing his strong play it would be downright blasphemous if he did not receive any MVP votes from the media.