Surprise. Anthony Davis comes in at number two overall in ESPN's NBA Rank, falling right behind LeBron James for the number one spot. Last season, Davis had a season for the ages, finishing with 24.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.9 blocks per game. His 30.8 PER ranks among one of the highest in basketball history and that was just his age-21 season.
I think Davis is winning the MVP this year.
I know that it's impossible for someone to win the MVP without carrying his team to a top two seed in his conference, but I find everything in place for Davis to do so. His team is going to be relying on him more than usual, due to the rash of injuries that will hamper New Orleans to start the year. The numbers will be there. I can only see his numbers going up, maybe a drop in efficiency, but that's about it.
And finally, we're in a progressive sport period. You can't lean on things like this, but I hope that Davis gets similar treatment that Felix Hernandez received when he won the Cy Young award in 2010 with a 13-12 record. Hernandez finished that season with a 2.29 ERA, 3.04 FIP and 3.15 xFIP, earning the award despite his overall record. If Davis puts up similar numbers from last season and adds a reliable three-point shot, I think he should be the MVP next season.
Davis continued to be a monster on both sides of the court. Defensively, he's still improving as a defender, but he's great at registering blocks -blocking some threes, too - and steals, as well as being an overall presence on the floor. The rather permanent move from center to power forward allowed him to avoid some of the wear and tear. I would like to see him defend at the rim better, allowing 53.7% at the rim, but I can't be too mad at that because he allowed just 30.4% from 5 to 10 feet, via NBA Savant.
Offensively, the game continued to develop. He was a better passer than his previous two seasons, seeing his assist rate jump to 11.6% while cutting his turnover rate down to 6.3%. He expanded his game outward, shooting 46.3% on shots from 10 to 14 feet and 42.3% on shots from 15 to 19 feet. Overall, he's one of the biggest weapons in a pick-and-roll offense because he can finish at the rim (70.4% at the rim) or fade and pop a jumper.
Right now, there's nothing that's stopping him from being the guy. LeBron is at the height of his powers, but the minutes are creeping up and we've already seen him in need of time off. Kevin Durant is coming off a broken foot and while I think Stephen Curry is amazing, I still rather have Davis if we're building a team today. After signing a five-year contract extension, the Pelicans now have to build a team around him, giving them a chance to bring a championship to New Orleans.
There's nothing stopping Anthony Davis from becoming the guy this year, so I'm excited to see just how good Davis can perform this season.