If you’re a big basketball fan, one of the most entertaining questions to debate amongst friends is simple — You’re starting a franchise today, what one player are you taking to build your team around?
Now, if you know your hoops, you’ve given the same answer for the last 10+ years — LeBron James. Hate him or love him, he’s been the obvious choice during that time period if you want to win. That trend began to fade last season, though.
NBA.com polls the league’s General Managers each season, and one question is always “If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be?”
Prior to last year LeBron James commanded 50% of the vote, which was surprisingly low for him. Prior to this season, LeBron shockingly commanded just 6.9% of the vote — a tie for second-place with Kevin Durant. There’s a new sheriff in town, and if everything goes to plan, he’ll be the name you answer the aforementioned question with year after year.
This year’s GM poll was released on Tuesday, and Anthony Davis took home a whopping 86.2% of the vote.
This isn’t saying LeBron’s time at the top is over. More than 50% of the GMs voted that James is the toughest player in the league to game plan for, and that they favor the Cavaliers to win the 2016 NBA Championship. But it can’t be ignored that AD is nibbling on ‘Bron’s heals when it comes to earning the respect as “top dog” from those within the league.
No, the Pelicans have no chance to win the NBA title this season, as LBJ’s Cavs do. But if you’re reading the DK Playbook, you care about more than what team wins the championship … like what individuals are going to stuff the stat sheet this season.
Although Anthony Davis isn’t your typical “breakout player,” some of the smartest people in basketball believe that Davis is gaining ground on James as the best player in the world (assuming you think NBA GMs are smart). That’s most evident by the overwhelming number of GMs that would take Davis to start their team, but if you feel the question is too geared towards the future, there’s more that suggests Davis is primed to take another huge leap in his career right now.
Last season LeBron was predicted to be the MVP by 67.9% of the GMs. Of course, Stephen Curry snuck in there and surprised everyone, but that’s besides the point. James has dropped down to 39.3% of the vote this season, while Davis has earned 25% — good for second-place.
When you take LeBron out of the mix, and only talk power forwards (sure, you can count LeBron at all five positions if you want), the GMs are even more decisive on who the best in the league is. Last season is was Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge sharing the honors with 25% of the vote each. This season Davis was voted the best power forward by 82.1% of GMs, leaving Griffin a very distant second with 7.1% (the same as LeBron, actually). Basically, it’s Davis and then everybody else. There’s no competition.
When it comes down to it, the fact that every GM in the NBA combined to choose Davis as the league’s best building block should speak volumes about what’s to be expected from him this season. With names like Stephen Curry and James Harden not even mentioned, and LeBron James and Kevin Durant left in the dust, it’s time to raise your expectations of Anthony Davis to the ceiling.
Then you remember this is a guy that averaged 24.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, 2.2 assists, 1.5 steals and shot well over 50% in his third NBA season last year, and understand just how good this kid’s going to be.
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