AD sure has been playing like an MVP of late.
Yesterday, your Los Angeles Lakers laid the smackdown on the Washington Wizards in D.C., winning their third straight game overall 130-119 (though the margin was in blowout territory earlier in the fourth quarter).
As has been the case lately, everything came down to the superlative play of All-NBA center Anthony Davis, who after a lackluster start to his season has cranked his effort up to 11 for L.A.
Through his 20 healthy games this season, Davis is averaging 28.6 points (the eighth-highest average in the NBA) on 59% shooting (13th), 12.8 rebounds (first), 2.6 assists, 2.4 blocks (second behind North Hollywood native Brook Lopez’s unreal 3.0 blocks), and 1.4 steals a night (16th).
Another big part of the Lakers’ revitalized season has been Russell Westbrook’s improved play since being shifted to the bench. Brodie had been floated as a potential Sixth Man of the Year contender in his new role, but now, given the output of Davis and the team’s march towards a record above .500 again (L.A. is currently 10-12), could Anthony Davis be in line for some end-of-season hardware of his own?
Westbrook spoke with gathered reporters following the Washington win about the possibly of an AD-for-MVP campaign:
“Just easy, making the game easy, rolling, in the pocket, finishing by the basket,” Westbrook said of Davis’s play yesterday. As far as winning a possible Most Valuable Player award goes, the 2017 winner of that honor was a bit ambivalent. “I don’t know, but we’ll see. As long we continue winning, taking care of business, we’ll see what happens.”
Westbrook is most likely right in saying that, to win MVP, the Lakers will probably need to keep winning.
Only twice in league history has a player won the MVP on a team with a losing record (i.e. below .500). St. Louis Hawks center Bob Pettit, an 11-time All-Star and a two-time MVP, won it on a 33-39 club in 1956. The player to secure the honor with a regular season record below .500 was a Laker, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who won one of his league-most six MVP honors on a 40-42 L.A. club in 1976.
This year, the current MVP favorites appear to be Jayson Tatum, on the 19-5 Boston Celtics, Devin Booker on the 16-7 Phoenix Suns, reigning two-time Denver Nuggets MVP Nikola Jokic (whose Nuggets are 14-9), and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose Milwaukee Bucks are 16-6. Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, the league’s leading scorer, and Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry are the other two players on franchises at or near a .500 record who seem to have a shot at the honor this season. The Mavericks are 11-11, while the Warriors are just a bit better at 13-11, but those middling records aren’t seen as a reflection on their best players’ relative greatness. Davis has announced himself as a fringe contender for the honor thanks to his recent output. Should it sustain, he may have a crack at it!