Anthony Davis is already considered by many to be the league’s third best player behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant, even though he’s just beginning his third NBA season.
Davis was everywhere in the Pelicans opening night blowout win over the Magic, and put up a ridiculous statistical line of 26 points, 17 rebounds and nine blocked shots.
But before we get ahead of ourselves where our praise of Davis is concerned, there’s one simple fact worth mentioning.
There’s practically zero chance he wins the MVP this season.
Now, if Davis continues to put up these kinds of numbers, he’ll have a case, at least statistically. It’s just that the award always goes to the best player on one of the league’s top teams, and no matter how dominant Davis is, it’s tough to envision the Pelicans reaching those lofty heights.
New Orleans added Omer Asik to help Davis on the defensive end, and despite some early miscues against the Magic in Tuesday night’s opener — when Davis was aggressive in playing the passing lanes and Asik was late rotating over, which resulted in strong numbers for Nikola Vucevic — the tandem should come together nicely as the season progresses.
But there’s little depth to this squad, and once you get past sixth man Ryan Anderson — who hit three straight threes to end the third quarter on Tuesday, which blew a game that was closer than expected wide open — there just isn’t much there. And, even among the starters, the three-guard lineup New Orleans is rolling with could be problematic when facing bigger and more talented teams.
The Western Conference is absolutely loaded, and it took 49 wins just to squeak into the playoffs there last season. If you think the Pelicans can win that many games, that’s a fairly big leap of faith to take, but let’s assume for a moment that it’s possible. Who, exactly, among the top eight or nine teams is regressing? There’s no easy answer, and barring catastrophic injuries, it would be extremely difficult to see New Orleans jumping up and grabbing any one of those bottom few postseason spots.
Looking back at the past 15 MVP winners, each one played for a team that finished no worse than fourth in the league-wide standings. And, more often than not, the award-winner played for one of the top two regular season teams.
There’s almost no scenario where the Pelicans break into that group this season, which makes the MVP candidacy for Davis more than a long shot — it’s virtually impossible to envision.