Just three weeks into the NBA season, we’ve got two “future MVP’s of the league” already making a case for the 2018-19 award. Can either win it or will a previous winner add another trophy to the mantel?
Both Anthony Davis (2012 Draft Class) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (2013 Draft Class) have been described as “future NBA MVP’s”.
The two freaks of nature are in their sixth and seventh year in the league and that ‘future’ could soon become a reality.
Following a strong individual start and Milwaukee’s 8-2 record, Antetokounmpo is the current favourite at $4 with Davis a touch behind at $5.50. A teams record plays a significant role in the voting by the end of the season. While the Bucks could conceivably finish towards the top of the East, the Pelicans are hitting a few speed bumps. Their six-game losing streak has well and truly negated their 4-0 start.
Nevertheless, there’s still a long time for both players to make their case.
Giannis ‘the Greek freak’ Antetokounmpo’s Case
Antetokounmpo has the stats to be the NBA’s MVP if he can keep them up.
He does a bit of everything to ensure he’s always playing a positive role, even on a night his shot isn’t dropping. Whether it be cleaning the glass for his 13.3 rebounds per game, handing out freebies to his teammates with 5.9 assists per game, or blocking 1.2 shots per game while leading the NBA in defensive win shares (0.7), The Greek Freak is filling the box score.
And perhaps just as important as the numbers, Antetokounmpo fits the narrative.
It’s easier for an NBA MVP voter to vote for the public’s favourite. Every year there are a handful of worthy winners, but narrative quite often acts as the tiebreaker.
With highlights like these popping up every other day, Antetokoumpo won’t be short of public support.
There’s just no stopping this…
Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 🔨‼️pic.twitter.com/B1lyWwvq0B
— Good NBA Tweets (@NBAScribe) November 7, 2018
Anthony ‘brow’ Davis’ Case
“If we lose, it’s on me. If we win, they give my team the credit and I’m fine with that. A perfect example [was against the Warriors]. I don’t have a good game and we lose. So, I got to play almost perfect every night to give us a chance to win.”
That quote is a genuine worry for the Pelicans, but it can only give Davis backers in the NBA MVP race confidence.
Brow knows that it’s all on him in New Orleans. He can’t afford to take a night off. If he does, his Pelicans teammates will rarely be able to make up for it. Unlike some of the other superstars of the sport that can afford to coast through the regular season to the playoffs, Davis needs to be firing all season long just to give the Pelicans a chance.
It's only six games, but this shows how the Pelicans' plus-minus strongly correlates with how well Anthony Davis is playing (his Net Points). There is always correlation, but not usually at 98%. pic.twitter.com/tFYwsRXq34
— Dean Oliver (@DeanO_Lytics) November 5, 2018
With a 25.5% usage rate, Davis behind most superstars in the NBA. If he can get that closer to the likes of Antetokounmpo (34.9%), James Harden (33.6%) and Steph Curry (31.9%), Brows numbers will only increase. Davis can dominate on both sides of the ball, but he could still leave more fingerprints on the offence than he has done recently.
Struggling a little for health, there’s a chance Davis is off to a slow start. If that’s the case, his numbers will be more than worthy of winning the MVP award by the end of the season. And as somebody who is expected to win one eventually, voters will have no problem handing him the trophy.
Other NBA MVP Candidates
Alongside Antetokounmpo at $4, Steph Curry is lighting the league up. The best shooter of all time has come out firing to start the season. His biggest issue is Kevin Durant ($15). Another contender for the award on the same team can make things difficult with splitting votes a very real possibility.
LeBron James might be the most likely smokey at $6. His Lakers won’t be towards the top of the West, but James will have the numbers and certainly has the narrative. If he can drag the Lakers anywhere near a top-four seed, he’s going to get votes.
Kawhi Leonard rounds out the single-digit options at $8. The Raptors look set to claim the number one seed in the East which automatically puts him in consideration. However, he’s already shown a tendency to sit out games and is some time away from producing his best. Leonard will need an incredible streak to post the sort of statistics to put him in the conversation.