Let’s get this out of the way early. Anthony Davis is my early favorite to win the Most Valuable Player award.
After placing third last season, he is well on track to claim the award in 2018-19. He made a huge statement by not only guiding the Pelicans to the playoffs after All-Star teammate Demarcus Cousins went down with an Achilles injury, but he won his first playoff game and series by sweeping the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers. In short, Davis was a monster on both ends of the court.
This year, though, he won’t have to worry about trying to figure out how to play alongside another star who has a history of injury and frustration on the court . Davis will also spend a full season with teammate Nikola Mirotić who he formed a formidable frontcourt combo with The Brow.
This season, Davis will be the sole superstar once again.
Not only is he a great all-around player, but he’s one of the more refined big men in the league. A talented shot-blocker, rebounder, shooter and ball-handler, Davis can do it all. He averaged 28.1 points per game last season while also increasing his block, steal, assist and field goal percentage totals.
Davis is in the perfect situation to continue his individual growth, which would ideally culminate with him claiming MVP honors. The only thing hurting him is the team he plays fore. The Pelicans simply aren’t contenders. Rightly or wrongly, that hurts his chances.
But Davis has been one of the few big men finding success in a league dominated by guards. Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Stephen Curry have won the last four MVP awards. Before that, Kevin Durant. LeBron James, and Derrick Rose won it. The MVP award hasn’t gone to a true big man since Dirk Nowitzki won it in 2007. Davis would be the first power forward to win the award in 12 years.
The star has suffered through some tough seasons, including missing the playoffs entirely or getting swept in the first round, but he was a superstar early on in his career. We know how good he is and how much better he could actually get. He is one of the best two-way players in the league, all the while displaying humility and a strong work ethic. For now, Davis has been loyal to the Pelicans and the fans have loved him plenty in return.
For the past few seasons, he’s certainly been in contention for the award. But he often comes in third or fourth at the end of the day. Another factor is that he has to deal with a tough Western Conference. We already know the Pelicans aren’t title contenders. But without Davis, they wouldn’t even be a playoff team.
This season, Davis will start at center. He’ll be able to face off against less athletic big men and help the Pelicans stretch the floor more.. He will remain difficult to guard. Centers will find it hard to match up against Davis because of his versatility. And with the phenomenal instincts he possesses, The Brow shouldn’t have too much trouble defending taller centers.
Anthony Davis is improving each season; now he’s got the burden of winning a playoff game (and series) off his chest. He placed third in both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year voting last season. Expectations will be sky high but his confidence is through the roof.
Davis put up MVP numbers at the end of last season and if he rides the momentum into next season, he could feasibly average over 30 points and 10-plus rebounds per contest.
It’s time for the league to recognize Davis as one of their best. Even if the team around him is not.