Next year’s MVP award is Anthony Davis’ to lose

Coming out of college, Anthony Davis was supposed to be the NBA’s next great defensive big man, locking down the paint against all opponents with the intimidating rim protection of a throwback player. He was hyper-athletic and long, with a 7-5? wingspan, nfl jerseys for cheap and in college he had run away with the NCAA defensive player of the year award. On offense, he was a rawer prospect with the explosiveness to finish around the rim but a questionable jumper and lack of a polished attacking style. His comps: Marcus Camby, Bill Russell, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan.

Fast-forward six years and Davis is in the midst of a late-season surge into MVP runner-up. He did remain a strong shot-blocker, ranking second in the NBA with 2.2 BPG this season, and he has made the NBA All-Defense second team in two of the past three seasons. But, surprisingly, scoring has become his calling card as a pro. Davis is second in the NBA in points this season with an efficient 28.2 PPG on 61.6 percent true shooting, and he has finished in the top seven in scoring for four straight seasons. Davis worked hard on his perceived scoring weaknesses, and he’s made them strengths with an excellent face-up game off the dribble that is bolstered by a consistent jump shot that he can knock down out to beyond the 3-point line.

Instead of Russell, Camby or even Duncan, Davis’ pro game has been more reminiscent of a combination of two legendary bigs who weren’t often mentioned before the 2012 draft: David Robinson and Dirk Nowitzki.

Davis, like Robinson, had a late growth spurt that took him from playing guard to center. Robinson was 5-foot-9 his junior year of high school, grew to 6-7 in his senior year, then up to 7-1 while at the Naval Academy. Davis was 6-3 as a junior in high school but hit 6-10 by the time that he graduated. Both players retained much of the quickness and skill of their shorter selves even after they attained their full heights.

Like Robinson, Davis is a dangerously fast big man who can fly down the court to finish on the break. He is a nightmare finisher around the rim on alley-oops (82.4 EFG on 370 lobs since 2013-14 season, per Second Spectrum) and offensive rebounds (66.1 EFG on 263 tips since 2013-14, per Second Spectrum). In iso situations, cheap nfl jerseys Davis has a Robinson-like lightning-quick first step with the confident handle of a former guard on drives (52.7 EFG on 628 driving layups since 2013-14, per Second Spectrum). The latter feature is one of the keys to his face-up offensive style that has served him so strongly as a pro.