x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Anthony Davis might steal thunder in future LeBron, Durant MVP races

These are not the first words printed in an attempt to properly hail the breakout second season by Anthony Davis, but the New Orleans Pelicans’ budding star deserves a chorus of praise. His numbers are remarkable.

New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis (23) fights for a loose ball with Denver Nuggets small forward Wilson Chandler (21) and Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried (35) in a game at New Orleans on March 9, 2014.  Davis, who scored 32 points to help lead a 111-107 victory for the Pelicans, is emerging as a star in his second year in the NBA. Bill Haber / AP Photo
New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis (23) fights for a loose ball with Denver Nuggets small forward Wilson Chandler (21) and Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried (35) in a game at New Orleans on March 9, 2014. Davis, who scored 32 points to help lead a 111-107 victory for the Pelicans, is emerging as a star in his second year in the NBA. Bill Haber / AP Photo

These are most definitely not the first words spilled in an attempt to properly hail Anthony Davis’ breakout second season. It’s well known and widely-documented what a talent the New Orleans Pelicans have on their hands.

But, frankly, the budding star deserves a chorus of praise.

His numbers are remarkable. Offensively, he is in the top-20 in points (20.8 per game) and shooting percentage (51.9 per cent). Defensively, he leads the league in blocks (2.82 per game) and ranks 12th in rebounds (10.0 per game).

More impressive than those raw figures, though, are the advanced metrics claiming that Davis, just 21 years old, could be on his way toward making the MVP races of the next decade more than just a two-horse race between LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

Depending on which you prefer, he has been anywhere from the third to fifth best player in basketball this year.

The popular assumption is that LeBron and Durant will duel for MVP awards for the next 10 or so years. But as Durant himself has shown this year, those dynamics are subject to change.

Just last year, James was the winner of successive MVPs and four of the last five, and it seemed he had no peer in the NBA. Then Durant emerged in 2013/14 with his best season as a pro making him the arguable MVP favourite.

Davis has the potential for a similar leap forward. At 6 ft 10 ins with impossibly long arms, a nice shot, fluid movements around the basket and a ridiculously intuitive sense for the timing it takes to block a shot, he has a chance to be to the modern power forward what Durant has been to the modern small forward and James to the modern shooting guard – an evolutionary example at the position.

And he just might snag an MVP or two away from James and Durant over the ensuing decade.

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