Anthony Davis is going to win the MVP award by the time he turns 25 years old.
Even with stars like LeBron, Durant, Rose, and ‘Melo, Anthony Davis holds his own as one of the most promising players in recent memory. Last season, the 21-year-old (he doesn’t turn 22 until March) led the league in blocks per game, made his first All-Star appearance, and helped his team win seven more games than the year before, in a very difficult Western Conference. Davis was one of only three players to average at least 10.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.2 steals. He also finished in 8th place for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, despite missing a handful of games. That’s just defense.
Anthony Davis has improved his offensive game drastically since entering the league two years ago. It’s extremely tough finding your game as an undeveloped youngster entering the league with only a year of experience in college. In his rookie season, Davis averaged 13.5 points per game in a little under 30 minutes per game. The next season he increased his ppg output to 20.8 in 35 minutes per game. A substantial increase in production had him in discussion for Most Improved Player. A stat line of 20.8 ppg, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game is pretty crazy for a guy that’s still just a few years removed from his life-changing high school growth spurt. The scary part is that these numbers are just going to go up.
I’m a big believer in USA Basketball and the impact it has on players the following few seasons. The experience you gain traveling, learning, and playing with veterans in the league is invaluable. Over the summer, USA played in and won the FIBA World Cup. Anthony Davis played in and started all nine games for Team USA. I promise we will be able to see a more confident, more enlightened player as soon as Davis takes the court for game one of the 2014-2015 regular season. We have seen what international play has done for Carmelo Anthony, Kyrie Irving, and Stephen Curry, to name a few.
Are the New Orleans Pelicans a championship contender? Probably not. Do they have a solid team that you wouldn’t want to face in the playoffs? Absolutely. Anthony Davis is without a doubt the face of the franchise, a face that only has one eyebrow at that. But the New Orleans front office has a done a good job surrounding Davis with nice, experienced talent. The potential starting lineup of Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Omer Asik, and Davis looks pretty solid on paper. The Pelicans also picked up sharpshooter Jimmer Fredette, drafted experienced guard Russ Smith, and have a handful of other bench players to help push the franchise in the right direction. Last season, the opening day starting lineup for the Pelicans played a combined 12 games together because of injuries. If the Pelicans can stay healthy, they can win anywhere from 40-45 games. Anthony Davis is that good.
The biggest constraint stopping Anthony Davis from winning the Most Valuable Player award is a guy by the name of LeBron James. You may or may not have heard of him. In order for our before-25-MVP guarantee to come true, Davis would have to win it within the next three seasons. Obviously players like Durant, ‘Melo, and Curry are in his way too, but LeBron is the biggest threat.
The MVP award is kind of a strange one. It all depends on how you define valuable. Is the MVP the best player in the league? Is he the most valuable to his team? Do you need to be on a winning team to help ensure the award goes to the most deserving player? All very good questions that are answered at the end of each season by the opinions of basketball enthusiasts.
The gift and the curse in Davis’ pursuit of the MVP award is that his team is not that good. Yet. He will have to score, rebound, and defend more than LeBron, who is playing on a stacked Cleveland Cavaliers team. Let’s say LeBron and Davis end the year with similar stat lines (‘Bron has better points and assists, while Davis has better rebounds and blocks), but the Pelicans end the year 30-52 and 10th in the West while the Cavs finish first in the East with a 60-22 record. Who gets the MVP award? Since LeBron’s team did better you would assume he would be more likely to get it. (This is obviously a rough drawing of what might happen this year, but I like painting scenarios.) The reigning MVP, Kevin Durant, is out for the first six weeks of the season, which helps Anthony Davis as well.
Still, if Anthony Davis stays focused, he will win the MVP award within the next three seasons. There are still areas in which Davis needs improvement, like any other player. He needs to work on his outside shot, get stronger inside the paint, and improve his passing ability. The harder he works the more he will be rewarded in the future. His defensive skills are freakish, his offense ability has potential, and the more he continues to take on a leadership role for the Pelicans the better NBA player he will become.
Being the best player in the NBA for an entire season is not an easy task. As long as Anthony continues to “Raise The Brow” I will continue to raise my expectations on the young stud from Chicago.
A final bold prediction: The season Anthony Davis wins the MVP award he will also win Defensive Player of the Year. Where you at, Floyd?
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