Walker: James Harden Is The MVP, But Anthony Davis Isn't Far Behind

Davis averaged more points, rebounds and blocks than LeBron James this season

JRSportBrief
April 17, 2018 - 8:59 am

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James Harden will likely win NBA MVP, but if Anthony Davis doesn’t finish in the top two or three, somebody made a mistake. 

Davis averaged 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game this season, almost single-handedly leading New Orleans to the playoffs after DeMarcus Cousins ruptured his Achilles in January. The Pelicans went 20-8 over their final 28 games to finish 48-34 and secure the 6-seed in a loaded West.

How impressive has Davis been this year? In a word, very.

“This is a team that pretty much everybody had written off once Cousins went down,” The Advocate sports columnist Rod Walker said on Ferrall on the Bench. “I still think Harden is the MVP, but you look at what AD did for the last six weeks of the season, it really was an incredible run. He definitely belongs in that MVP conversation. If you look at his numbers, he has more points, more rebounds and more blocks than LeBron, and the Pelicans finished with two less wins that Cleveland did. So I think AD is definitely the second guy. Personally, I think Harden is one and AD is probably two, but you could definitely make a case for AD as well.”

Davis had a monster Game 1 against Portland on Saturday, finishing with 35 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. 

Walker believes that Davis, the No. 1 overall pick in 2012, wants to remain with the Pelicans for the foreseeable future.

“I think he loves New Orleans,” Walker said. “I think he sort of likes the smaller market. I don’t know if there’s as much pressure, but he does want to win and they’re starting to put some pieces around him. I think with the way Jrue (Holiday) is playing, with the way they’ve played this season, i think he really thinks he can win here – and I think he wants to win here. I don’t think he’s a guy who’s going to run off to play in L.A. or New York. I think he really believes they can win here. He’s not given any indications that he’s not happy.”

Holiday scored 21 points in Game 1 against Portland and has developed into a top-notch two-way player. Rajon Rondo, however, has been the difference in New Orleans this season. He only scored six points in Game 1, but he had 17 assists.

“When they signed him, a lot of people thought he was going to be a cancer in the locker room who nobody would get along with,” Walker said. “And to me, obviously AD has been the guy putting up all the stats, but Rondo has probably bene the biggest difference in the team this year. He’s given them a different type of confidence. He knows how to win, he’s been there, and these guys really listen to him. He’s just such a basketball nerd and he knows everything. He knows every play before it’s going to happen, and he’s just been a really big difference to the team this year. He’s the one that’s put them over the hump.”

Game 2 is Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. ET. The series shifts to New Orleans for Game 3 on Thursday.