It wasn’t quite a universal consensus, but when numerous basketball media members unveiled their picks for the league’s All-NBA squads at season’s end, Anthony Davis was a common first-team selection. A year after he played a career-low 61 games in 2015-16 and was left off each of the three All-NBA lists, he bounced back in a big way, appearing in a career-best 75 games and regaining his place among the elite of the sport (Davis had finished fifth in MVP voting in ’14-15, behind Steph Curry, James Harden, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook).
Davis likely would’ve garnered serious MVP consideration – in a year when there was no shortage of extremely qualified candidates – had New Orleans made a bigger jump in the standings, but the Pelicans improved by just four wins from the previous season.
“Unfortunately for us, we didn’t have the type of year we anticipated from a team standpoint, but if we had the year we anticipated, I think they very much would’ve been talking about him for MVP,” New Orleans second-year head coach Alvin Gentry said late in 2016-17. “I just think he’s been real consistent.”
Indeed, a monster year for Davis included him setting single-season New Orleans franchise records for points (2,099), free throws made (519), field goals (770) and defensive rebounds (712). He made significant leaps in scoring average (24.3 to 28.0) and rebounding (10.3 to 11.8), a rare feat for a player who already ranked near the top of the NBA in both categories. Davis scored 30-plus points in a whopping 36 of his 75 appearances, while commonly showing up in statistical comparisons to Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal for his numerous 30-point, 10-rebound games. In March, Davis’ streak of four straight games with at least 30 points and 13 boards was the first of its kind since Shaq in 2000.
“When they compare you to Shaq and say you two guys are the only ones to do (something) over the last 18 years,” Gentry summarized, “that’s pretty impressive.”
After being named a Western Conference All-Star for the fourth straight year, Davis accomplished additional hoops history Feb. 19 on his home floor, breaking the all-time record with 52 points in the NBA All-Star Game and garnering MVP.
NBA experience: 5 seasons || Games played/started: 75/75 || Age: 24