When Anthony Davis signed his five year, $145 million extension this summer qualifying for the Rose Rule seemed to be a forgone conclusion. There are three avenues to securing the Rose Rule and at the time all three seemed perfectly attainable. Davis needed to start the 2016 All-Star Game (he received the third most votes for 2015), be selected to an All-NBA team (he was on the 2015 All-NBA First Team), or win the MVP. Collecting all three requirements when just one would do seemed possible; Davis was the MVP pick for a number of prominent NBA writers.
Now AD's season is over. Yesterday Davis revealed that he has played with a torn labrum for the past three seasons and will finally undergo surgery to correct it and a more recent knee injury. Since Davis has only played 61 games this season many expect that it rules Davis out of earning a selection to an All-NBA team and the $24+ million activating the Rose rule will earn him. Is 61 games (and 2164 minutes) this season enough to earn a selection? Recent history will surprise you.
Each of the last three seasons at least one big man has been selected to an All-NBA team with a similar workload. Most recently DeMarcus Cousins was voted onto the 2015 All-NBA Second Team despite playing just 59 games for a Sacramento Kings team that went just 29-53.The Pels already have 26 victories with 13 games remaining.
|Tim Duncan||All-NBA 1st (2013)||69||2078||17.8||9.9||24.4||8.3||0.191||4.1||3.2|
|Dwight Howard||All-NBA 2nd (2014)||71||2396||18.3||12.2||21.3||8||0.161||1.9||2.4|
|DeMarcus Cousins||All-NBA 2nd (2015)||59||2013||24.1||12.7||25.2||6||0.144||4.7||3.4|
|Tim Duncan||All-NBA 3rd (2015)||77||2227||13.9||9.1||22.6||9.6||0.207||5.5||4.2|
|Anthony Davis||All-NBA ??? (2016)||61||2164||24.3||10.3||25.1||7.4||0.164||2.4||2.4|
via Basketball Reference
This is meaningless without context for how AD's performance measures up to big men this season, and a quirk of the All-NBA team selection process. All-Star ballots were adjusted to remove a "center" starter in 2012. All-NBA teams at the end of the year still include a specific center position. Anthony Davis has played 56% of his minutes at center according to Basketball Reference. NBAWowy has 54% (1173/2164) of AD's minutes coming without Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca, or Kendrick Perkins on the court.
The center crop this year is very thin. Marc Gasol is injured. Tim Duncan has played just 1,300 minutes. Andre Drummond, DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, and Pau Gasol are the primary competition. Davis has an excellent case.
As of games completed on March 20th
It is not an open-and-shut case to eliminate Davis from contention in this group. Add into it that many voters will know what rides on Davis receiving this honor and some will be easily justified in voting Davis as a center onto an All-NBA team.
None of this is to say Davis is guaranteed to be selected. But, I wouldn't rule him out just yet either.