Fear The Brow

Andrew Lang

“The Brow” is here and he is dominating the NBA.

Anthony Davis has emerged as one of the best players in the league this year posting gaudy stat totals and putting the New Orleans Pelicans right in the hunt for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Davis is leading the way with averages of 24.5 points per game, 10.3 rebounds per game, 1.4 steals per game and 2.8 blocks per game while shooting 54.5% from the field.

Despite these incredible stat lines. Davis finds himself left out of many MVP discussions. Davis has been too important to the Pelicans not to be mentioned.

A part of the reason the support for Davis in MVP discussions has fallen may be due to his multiple injuries. Davis recently missed several games with a shoulder injury. On nba.com, writer Sekou Smith cited these problems as why Davis wasn’t ranked higher on the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder on March 6.

“If not for injuries that have cost him significant time this season, Davis might have played his way into the top five mix of this race,” Smith said.

Davis has played in 53 of the Pelicans’ 65 games this year. That total does have an impact on the MVP race as a guy who plays more is inherently more valuable, but the standard does not seem to apply to everyone. Russell Westbrook is ranked fourth on Smith’s list despite only playing in 49 of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 64 games.

The team success plays a part but Westbrook and Davis are neck and neck in that category as the Thunder are 35-29 while the Pelicans are 36-29.

Another explanation for Westbrook’s consideration may be statistical superiority to Davis but that is not as clear as it might seem. Westbrook leads the league in points per game while Davis ranks fourth. Davis ranks tenth in rebounds per game. Westbrook ranks fourth in assists per game. Westbrook ranks second in steals per game. Davis leads the league in blocks per game. Davis also has the seventh best field goal percentage. Now, choosing between those two would be difficult. Neither is clearly better than the other yet Westbrook seems to be everywhere in MVP discussions.

Westbrook has been on fire lately, racking up triple double after triple double, and that storyline has driven him to the forefront of these discussions but Davis should be right in that discussion. Not everyone seems to think he belongs near the top however.

Davis came in ranked ninth on Smith’s list behind guys like Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Jeff Teague. The Pelicans, though, are a weaker team then the teams those three are on. Gasol had All-Star Jimmy Butler until recently helping his team win games. Aldridge plays with All-Star Damian Lillard. Jeff Teague plays with three other All Stars in Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, and Al Horford. The second best player on the Pelicans might be Jrue Holiday but Holiday only has played in 37 games. The next player is Tyreke Evans and Evans is having a solid year but Evans is not better than the All-Stars on Gasol’s Chicago Bulls, Aldridge’s Portland Trailblazers, and Teague’s Atlanta Hawks.

Davis usually comes in behind three other candidates too on everyone’s list in James Harden, Stephen Curry, and LeBron James. All of those guys have a strong case for MVP especially if team success is factored in. If it is though, then why is Westbrook included? If it does not factor in that much, why is Davis being forgotten? All five of those players deserve to be the candidates for MVP and all of them have a good case to be named MVP, Davis included.

Davis is a special player. His length and athleticism allow him to do things no one else can do. His total offensive and defensive game is amazingly refined for someone who just turned 22 years old. Davis should be part of the MVP conversation. Davis has been showing the league that they need to bow to the brow.

All statistics and information from basketball-refrence.com unless otherwise specified.

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