Step over LeBron James: Anthony Davis deserves the MVP

by Patrick Harrel

Coming out of Kentucky two years ago, we knew that Anthony Davis was going to be good. We saw his freakish athleticism, his dominating shot-blocking, and his offensive potential for the Wildcats, and when the New Orleans Hornets were awarded the first pick in the draft, there was little doubt who they would pick. They were going to pick the guy who does this.

Two years later, that pick is paying huge dividends as Davis is leading the Pelicans in one of the more remarkable seasons in recent memory. Today, we break down just how he’s doing it, and why people should be taking Davis more seriously for MVP.

We start on the defensive end of the floor, where Davis has been locking down opponents all season. He’s second in the league in blocks, swatting away 3.9 shots per game, but more importantly, he’s doing it in a disciplined fashion, making sure opponents aren’t getting good shots even if he doesn’t block the shot.

On the season, opponents are converting just 40.3% on shots taken against him at the rim, top 10 in the NBA and even more remarkable given that he’s playing out of position as a quasi-center alongside the weak Jason Smith. Then, add in his nearly two steals per game, and you have one of the most remarkable and versatile defensive big men in the league.

But everyone knew that Davis was going to be a solid defender, what we didn’t know was how tremendous an offensive player he would become. Davis has become a 20 point per game scorer, has increased his role dramatically but managed to reduce his turnovers, and has improved to become an 84% free throw shooter. In terms of analytics, there is absolutely nothing he doesn’t pass across the board.

He’s efficient, he doesn’t turn the ball over, and he is dominant on the defensive end. To this point in the season, he leads the league in Estimated Wins Added per 48 minutes, is tops in PER, and continues to improve. Watching him play last season, you saw a future All-Star. This year, you’re watching a current superstar.

LeBron James has continued his remarkable streak of immense quality, but he might have to step over this season as the NBA’s top big man takes his place at the top of the MVP rankings. Anthony Davis has become the superstar we all knew he could become, and if he keeps up this play, he deserves the MVP.

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