After seven seasons in the NBA, Anthony Davis has become one of the best big men in the game. The 26-year-old has earned plenty of accolades in his career: six All-Star appearances, three All-Defensive Team selections, three All-NBA selections and more.
The long-awaited move of Davis being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers finally happened in June, setting off an unprecedented NBA free agency period.
With a new team in a new environment, can Davis capture the MVP award in 2020?
A New Team & the LeBron Effect
With the exception of two seasons, Davis’ time in New Orleans was spent on bad teams. The Pelicans made the playoffs in 2015 and 2018, advancing to the semifinals in the latter appearance.
While Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and others are solid players, one thing is true: this Lakers group will be the best team Davis has played on in his NBA career.
LeBron James stands out in one aspect when it comes to basketball’s superstars. James has an unparalleled ability to make his teammates better.
Last season, James averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game in his Lakers debut. What often gets forgotten about last season is that the Lakers were on a winning path before James’ groin injury.
Had James been able to stay healthy, the Lakers, a team primarily of young talent, much of which was sent to the Pelicans to land Davis, would’ve made the playoffs. This upcoming season, James and Davis will have their best teammates of their careers in each other. The two arguably make up the best duo in the league.
James has taken sub-par rosters far in the playoffs before, and made otherwise average players like Tristan Thompson a lot better. With Davis to work with, James can potentially take off some of the scoring load, and shift his focus more to facilitating. In addition, Davis will give the Lakers a superstar presence on the floor when James, headed into his seventeenth season, sits games out for rest.
Beyond the LeBron & AD tandem, the Lakers have formed a solid roster that if healthy can be a strong supporting cast. Kyle Kuzma should be able to take a step in his third year, Quinn Cook should be a better player next season, and veterans like Rajon Rondo and Danny Green fill out the roster. In addition, the team gambled on DeMarcus Cousins, which could be crucial when Davis isn’t on the floor.
Running the pick-and-roll with one of the league’s best facilitators in James, along with help from a good supporting cast, Davis should have the best season of his career next season. How does he stack up against the competition?
As of the most recent 2020 MVP odds, Davis sits at fifth behind his teammate.
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is the favorite at +300 odds, followed by Steph Curry, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard. Davis has +1000 odds to capture his first MVP award next season.
For the most part, this group of players should be the favorites. While a dark horse candidate like Damian Lillard or Nikola Jokic could emerge, there are about five players who should be in the running for the award. However, Davis’ odds should be higher.
Harden, with new teammate Russell Westbrook, could potentially see a slight dip in offensive production next season, in addition to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George sharing the spotlight for the Clippers. Curry, having to carry Golden State until Klay Thompson returns, will likely be in the MVP race, and Giannis should have another monster season.
Look for Anthony Davis to be a top-three candidate for MVP in 2020. With James likely not playing the entire 82 game season, Davis will be dominant for the Lakers as their main option. If AD can average something close to 28-12-4 on his new team, the big man could potentially snag a new piece of hardware.
Featured image credited to Getty Images.
Stats credited to basketball-reference.com.