clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Anthony Davis nominated for Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year Awards, but can he win either honor?

New, comments

Will a sensational season by one of the league’s best be rewarded with a big prize?

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Before the start of Game 2 between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, TNT announced the finalists for a number of 2018 NBA awards that will be presented in late June, and there was a common denominator for Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year: Anthony Davis!

With top-3 finishes ensured in both categories, Anthony Davis is the 14th player to accomplish such a feat since the 1982-83 season.

Congratulations are definitely in order for achieving such distinction on a splendid campaign, but the question is, can Davis take it a step further and go home on June 25th as the winner of at least one of the prestigious awards?

Unfortunately, it’s not likely, but a great argument can be made that he’s the deserving recipient of at least one of the honors.

Concerning the Most Valuable Player Award, Davis’ numbers shine similarly alongside James Harden and LeBron James.

Player PTS REB ASTS STLS BLKS TOVS FG% Offensive Rating ORPM
Anthony Davis 28.1 11.1 2.3 1.5 2.6 2.2 53.4% 108.8 1.75 (43)
James Harden 30.4 5.4 8.8 1.8 0.7 4.4 44.9% 114.6 6.98 (1)
LeBron James 27.5 8.6 9.1 1.4 0.9 4.2 54.2% 112.7 5.61 (3)

However, the bad news is that Davis is probably headed for a third place finish in the MVP voting.

Despite AD sporting the best efficiency of the group — notice the combination of low turnovers with a high shooting percentage, the Pelicans offense was not as potent with Davis on the floor as the Rockets and Cavaliers were with Harden and James. In addition, with Houston winning a league-best 65 games and he finished a close second to Russell Westbrook one year ago, James Harden is universally considered to be the odds-on favorite. Then there’s LeBron James, who has been accoladed far and wide for having the best regular season of his career. He carried a below average Cleveland Cavaliers squad into the playoffs, averaged triple-doubles for long stretches and spent a lot more time in the national spotlight. Yeah, the King seems a shoe-in for runner-up.

As for winning the Defensive Player of the Year, though, Davis’ chances are significantly better, yet general sentiment seems to favor Rudy Gobert. The Utah Jazz had the second most effective defensive squad in the league, while the Pelicans, thirteenth. However, have a look at how Davis compares individually with Gobert and Joel Embiid.

Player Defensive Rating Team Defense On/Off DRPM STLS BLKS Deflections per 36 min Contested shots per 36 min Defended FG% Defended FG% at rim
Anthony Davis 103.4 +6.8 3.80 (6) 1.5 2.6 2.4 14.1 40.0% 54.2%
Rudy Gobert 97.7 +7.3 5.14 (1) 0.8 2.3 1.6 16.7 46.0% 55.2%
Joel Embiid 99.7 +4.3 3.60 (9) 0.6 1.8 1.3 13.7 33.6% 52.4%

It’s clear that Gobert was the anchor of one of the best defensive teams in the league, but his impact was somewhat limited to the paint as he’s not nearly as effective as Davis or Embiid on other parts of the floor. Moreover, shouldn’t the DPOY Award also factor in the amount of minutes played when there exist noticeable discrepancies among the nominees?

Davis appeared in 75 games and played a grand total of 2727 minutes during the regular season. Gobert saw action in 56 games and totaled 1816 minutes while Embiid 63 games and 1912 minutes.

With individual statistics lacking necessary separation, the nod should go to the versatile destroyer of worlds whose talents are beyond perfect for the heavy-switching schemes of today’s modern game and who — to the surprise of many — proved far more durable than his competition.