After Kevin Durant made his swift exit from Oklahoma City, fans across the league salivated at the idea of Russell Westbrook using every ounce of his athletic ability to exact his revenge; but he wasn’t the only star with an enormous chip on his shoulder.
When Anthony Davis first came into the NBA, he was seen as arguably the best prospect since LeBron James. Davis had dominated since coming to the University of Kentucky, winning a national championship, getting drafted number one overall and even winning a gold medal with Team USA at the 2012 Summer Olympics. He was a bona fide superstar all before he had even played a real NBA game.
After an okay rookie season, Davis broke the doors down and put up back-to-back seasons where he averaged 24 ppg and 10 rpg while also leading the league in blocks. In the 2014-2015 season the still-21-year-old Davis dragged a weak Pelicans team to the playoffs and although his team lost in four games to the mighty Warriors, Davis was clearly going to be the next great NBA player. In fact, LeBron James even said as much back in November of 2014.
At the start of the 2015-2016 season, NBA.com polled the league’s GMs and asked them who they would choose if they could pick one player to build their team around if they were starting a franchise. Davis was the overwhelming choice, receiving 86.2 percent of the votes. However, last season ended up being a lost season for Davis. Although his numbers were as good as ever, he struggled through injuries, missing 21 games and the Pelicans, a trendy pick to advance in the playoffs at the start of the season, stumbled to a dismal 30-52 record. This year, Davis was barely found on the GM survey, replaced by a new prospect as the top young player in the NBA.
So Davis began the season with a vengeance. He had been effectively replaced by his fellow Wildcat Karl-Anthony Towns as the NBA’s new golden prospect. The Pelicans were predicted to make very little noise in the Western Conference and Davis was practically forgotten in the NBA’s hierarchy.
But The Brow wasted no time in reasserting his dominance. He opened the season with one of the biggest statistical nights in recent memory, scoring 50 points, grabbing 16 rebounds, blocking 4 shots and coming away with 7 steals in a superhuman effort against Denver. He followed that up by nearly defeating Golden State by himself, putting up a 45-17 in a loss.
While the Pelicans are off to an awful start look destined for another trip to the lottery, nobody can blame Davis for his team’s poor play. Through Tuesday, he was averaging career highs in points (30.9pg) rebounds (11.5) steals (2.1) and blocks (3.0) while also getting the free-throw line at the Harden-esque rate of 11.8 FTA per game.
Unlike Westbrook, Davis does not play on (nearly) complete team, and despite his monster season, he will not receive much MVP consideration, but he has been every bit as amazing this season. Although he has been hampered by injuries throughout his career (he has never played in more than 68 games in a single season) Davis is clearly one of the ten best players in the NBA and should be an MVP candidate for the next decade.