If you believe the hype, the MVP trophy is signed, sealed and already delivered in a box to Mr. James Harden of the Houston Rockets. Once again, Harden is asserting himself as the best offensive shooting guard since Kobe Bryant. He’s leading the league in scoring. He’s third in assists. He is second in Real Plus-Minus. He is tenth in steals. He is fourth in efficiency. His team has the best record. The Rockets are first in offensive efficiency, second in scoring, first in three point shots attempted and made, third in steals. The GM of the Rockets has admitted to having Warriors on the brain and there is no better antidote to the Land of Steph than the Beard and CP3. But stare at the Rockets through tinted glasses at your own peril. You are missing something epic.
Anthony Davis had a mother of a month. He played 11 games and 416 minutes. He took 284 shots and made half of them. He marched to the free throw line 93 times and made 81%. He pulled down 138 rebounds. He had 27 steals, 24 blocks. He scored 385 points for a 35 points per game average. His February was sick.
In the 7 game winning streak, Davis has averaged 35 points and 15 rebounds. How special is that you want to know? Wilt special. Elgin special. Kareem special. Moses special.
I know what you were thinking when Cousins went down and all eyes and pressure were on Davis who is desperate to get back into the playoffs and not get injured in the interim. Since then, Davis has been playing thirsty.
Currently, the Pels are the fifth seed and a half a game back of the 4th seed Spurs, and a game and a half behind the third seed Timberwolves who have seven games on the road without Jimmy Butler. It is not out of reality that if Davis keeps wearing his Black Panther cape the Pels could rise way up in the standings and then who is your MVP?
It is political incorrectness to ask this but I’ll ask. Who do you like better, Davis or Harden? If one was a scrub and one was a star it wouldn’t matter, the difference between perception and reality. But both are dominant NBA players, equal in some resepcts. You know what happens in a tie? We vote on likeability. Davis is liked more. But set that aside as a non-sequiter.
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Davis has already passed LeBron for second behind Harden in MVP optics. If he engineers a drive up the standings by carrying the team with him and the Pels are the third seed, it’s going to be hard to deny Anthony Davis the trophy. This is why. Look at who Harden is playing with and who Davis is playing with. Harden has Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza (NBA champion) and Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon and Clint Capela and, oh yeah, old man iso-Joe on the bench with a couple of defenders thrown in to save Harden’s apathy.
Look at Davis’ supporting cast. Jrue Holiday who hasn’t been an All-Star in half a decade, Rajon Rondo, a dude who got his face broke in two by a teammate, Nikola Mirotic, and so-so floatsam. I mean Emeka Okafor is on this team.
The Pels have two 25+ per game scorers and one of those scorers is on crutches. Jrue Holiday is good for 19 points. Then you drop way off with Nikola Mirotic at 14 points, E’Twaun Moore at 12 points and Darius Miller at 8 points. Its’ not making anyone tremble. It is all Anthony Davis all the time.
- In February, Davis usage rate was 35.6%, up 6.6% over January. His offensive rating of 114 was slightly lower than it was in January but his defensive rating was the best it had been all year.
- In February, Davis scored 50 points once, 40+ points four times, 30+ points twice. He had an 18 rebound game against the Suns and 17 rebounds versus the Nets and Heat. The Pelicans were 8-3 in the month.
Harden and the Rockets were ballin’ too. They didn’t lose a game in February.
The question is, can Davis keep this kind of extraordinary superhero play up. And then, can he rise up to Messiah levels when the Pels play the Rockets in NOLA on March 17th, and in Houston a week later. If he not only outshines Harden but the Pels win and they find themselves with a top-4 seed, not voting for Anthony Davis MVP is going to be near impossible. Because Davis had done one thing Harden will never be able to do. Davis has a defensive rating of 104 and Harden will only get that number in his dreams.
Speaking of dreams, it’s the playoffs for Anthony Davis. He doesn’t think of his career as extraordinary because he hasn’t had a postseason win but he has had a magical career. He was an All-Star his second year. He won the block title twice. He has averaged 35 minutes and 25 points and a 27.7 PER since his rookie year. He is a top-5 NBA player. In the All-Star Draft Kevin Durant was selected first, Giannis Antetokounmpo was selected second and Anthony Davis was selected third.
There is anxiousness surrouding Davis in spite of his brilliance in February. Can he stay healthy? Will his body hold up as he puts up these Shaq like numbers and performances? Reality seems to suggest that if Anthony Davis tiptoes around the injury tulips and the Pels find themselves in the top-4 playoff slot then Anthony Davis will do to James Harden what always happens to James Harden this time of year. Someone thieves his trophy.
Anthony Davis may indeed follow Steph and Russ in breaking James Harden’s heart. Again.