The MVP award is an individual accolade highly coveted by all players in Basketball. It is validation that you’re level of play is rivaled by few others. Though the award was implemented to be given to the leagues most valuable of players, it doesn’t always fall into the hands of the MOST valuable individual. If MVP actually stands for “Most Valuable Player” than, this season, it should be awarded to Anthony Davis.
When thinking of the NBA’s MVP award, generally, people believe it should go to the leagues best player. This, however, is a fraudulent mindset. MVP stands for “Most Valuable Player”, specifically in regards to ones respective team. While sometimes the recipient of the award may also be considered the BEST player in the league, it does not mean that it HAS to go the best player in the league.
Looking at this season alone, the three best players in the league are Lebron James, James Harden and Kevin Durant. And, with good reason, for what these three individuals are doing on a nightly basis is truly remarkable. James averages the most points (26.8 PPG) and assists (9.0 APG) on his respective team. Harden leads the entire league in points per-game with 31.2 a night. And KD is having yet another Durant-like year in the scoring department (26.1 PPG), but it is his defensive improvements that is the most impressive aspect of his 2017-18 campaign.
Yup, these three ballers are without a doubt at the top of the heap when discussing the leagues best players. However, when talking about the leagues most valuable player, another individual seems to come into the conversation. In fact, it’s quite possible that he’s deserving of the top spot.
Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans is once again having a phenomenal season. From scoring (28.0 PPG) to rebounding (11.1 RPG) it appears as though AD is playing as good as he ever has. And while he may not score more points, dish out more assists or player better overall defense than the three players mentioned above, his value to his respective ball club is unrivaled.
Coming into the season, Davis had a top-15 player as his running-mate in DeMarcus Cousins. Together they looked to accomplish great things during this years campaign. Although it got off to a slow and murky start, by the halfway point of the season the pair had finally jelled, reaching a top-five seed in the West with a 27-21 record. The Pelicans looked like a team on the rise. Then, trouble came afoot. During a 115-113 win over the, then, undefeated James Harden/ Chris Paul led Houston Rockets, all 269-pounds of DeMarcus Cousins plummeted to the hardwood in agonizing pain. He had torn his achilles tendon. The injury subsequently meant the Pelicans had lost their star center for the remainder of the 2017-18 season. To many, it appeared as though New Orleans’ season was on the verge of collapse.
In the six games immediately following this unfortunate event, the Pelicans were only able to capture one victory. At this moment, all signs pointed to another season ending in March for New Orleans, with their players watching playoff basketball from the comfort of their own residencies. Then, almost out of nowhere, something amazing happened; the Pelicans got a win. Then, another. Then another. Interestingly enough, however, though the team had now won three games in a row, the feeling most fans got was that this streak was a mere fluke, a mirage if you will.
Now, almost a month later, the Pelicans have yet to lose and are currently riding into tonights matchup against the Washington Wizards on a ten-game winning streak. And while people can say the teams improved overall play is a major contributor to NOLA’s continued success, frankly, the Pelicans would be NOWHERE if not for the historic level of play that Anthony Davis has unleashed upon his opponents.
Please, do not take this as a knock to players such as Jrue Holiday, Nikola Mirotic and Rajon Rondo. Many of the guys residing on the Pelicans roster, especially Holiday, have been major contributors towards the success the Pelicans have had this season. But again, what makes this team an intimidating opponent to face on a nightly basis is not due to any of the aforementioned players; thats been Anthony Davis’ job.
Over the course of their ten-game stretch Davis, as previously mentioned, has been playing HISTORICALLY well. With averages of 35.6 points, 13.1 boards, 2.9 steals and 3.1 blocks on 53.7% shooting, it’s easy to tell how big of an impact the Brow has had on his ball-club. During the month of February, Davis became the first player since 1982 (Moses Malone) to average at least 35 points and 10 rebounds in a calendar month. He also managed to record five 40-point, 10-rebound games, which is the most in a calendar month in over 35 years. With these numbers leading the charge New Orleans has not lost a single game since February 9th, and the Pelicans are both current holders of the fourth seed out west as well as the second longest winning streak in the league.
Interestingly enough, the team that holds the longest win-streak are the ones rostering the presumed favorite to win. James Harden, as stated in the beginning of this article, has been on another level this year. From scoring, to dime dropping to breaking grown mens ankles (sorry Wesley Johnson), Harden is doing wonders during the 2017-18 campaign. His team is currently the best (record wise) in the NBA, and are simultaneously looking to lock up home-court advantage throughout the postseason. While it may be safe to say he’s proven, this year at least, that he’s played like the best player in the league, does that mean he should automatically be penciled in as MVP?
When comparing Harden to Davis this season, one word automatically comes to mind; more. More points, more assists, more flash and flavor. But, perhaps the most impactful aspect to Harden’s season that he has more of an abundance of in comparison to Davis is help. When looking at each respective roster, it is apparent that Hardens supporting cast is superior to Davis’.
Running alongside Harden is Chris Paul (a first ballot Hall of Famer playing as good as ever), Eric Gordon (the reigning Sixth Man of the Year), Clint Capela (a young/ athletic big with an affinity for catching lob passes and blocking shots) and Joe Johnson (a savy veteran still in possession of an impressive offensive game) just to name a few.
Davis, on the other hand, simply has far less to work with. Though Jrue Holiday is having a career year (19.4 PPG, 5.8 APG) and, believe me, has just been sensational throughout the season, in comparison to Hardens sidekick of CP3, Houston gets the edge. Then, we look at the rest of the gang. Nikola Mirotic is NOLA’s sixth man. Yes, the 27 year-old is a solid stretch-four who can put up 20 points and 10 boards on any given night but, again, Houston winds up on top with the likes of Eric Gordon. Then, further down the list, we have Rajon Rondo, E’Twaun Moore, Emeka Okafor….
You get the deal.
Even in the coaching department Harden gets the better hand. Mike D’Antoni is a 2x NBA Coach of the Year who revolutionized the game of basketball with his “Seven Seconds or Less” system of play. Alvin Gentry has a winning percentage of .459 and has led his teams to the playoffs just twice as a head coach. Believe me, this is not a knock at the New Orleans Pelicans. They have performed admirably while dealing with adversity and are now looking towards a playoff push. This is me simply saying Harden’s situation in Houston is better than Davis’ in New Orleans. And, for some reason, people are viewing Harden as more deserving of winning the MVP than Davis?
MVP stands for “Most Valuable Player.” You take away Harden from the Rockets and you still should have a competitive team fighting for the playoffs. You take away Davis from the Pelicans, and you’re looking at a lottery contender. With this in mind, wouldn’t that indicate Davis’ value to his respective franchise is greater than Harden’s? Again, I know that Harden and his Rockets own the best record in the entire league. However, just because you’re the best doesn’t mean you’re the most valuable.
Yes, Harden is extremely important to the Houston organization. The numbers he’s been putting up have been otherworldly. Still, if MVP truly stands for “Most Valuable Player”, the award should not go to James Harden, it should go to Anthony Davis.