To open the NBA season, I wrote a piece entitled The NBA 100: A comprehensive guide of things to look for, pay attention to, will/won't happen and predictions for the 2014-15 season. (Check @iamscoopjackson for the list.) No. 54 read as follows: "Anthony Davis being part of the MVP conversation: He won't win it but he will hear the 'next Tim Duncan' phrase more and more." I'm just sayin' ...
Scoop: So I heard you're going with the "other" King James, JH13 (James Harden), for MVP?
Davis: Yeah, man. I mean, the things he does and been doing. Just (the other) night, he had 51 (points)! He's just ballin'. It's going to be tough, Russ (Westbrook) is playing out of his mind, Steph (Curry) is playing out of his mind ... But if I had to choose, I'd have to give it to James.
Scoop: How does it feel to hear your name in the MVP conversation?
Davis: It feels really good just to hear people mention my name in the race with those types of players who are having unbelievable seasons. I mean, I'm just in my third year and already a contender for the MVP award is, uh, something I always dreamed about but never thought would happen. I never thought I'd get a chance this early. So it's definitely an honor and a blessing. To me, it just shows that I just try to go out there and compete to the best of my abilities and show the world that I can play this game.
Scoop: Let me ask you a stupid question: Do you feel that you deserve to be in the conversation?
Davis: For sure. I mean, I think that should be everyone's mentality. If you don't have that mentality, then it's going to be hard for you in the NBA. All of the great ones have that mentality. I want to be great, so I'm going to have that mentality: You know, thinking I'm the best on the floor every time I step on the floor, and my name should be in the category for MVP.
Scoop: I argue with people about this all of the time, lemme see where you are on this: Do you feel the MVP should go to the best player or the player having the best season? Because a lot of times it's not the same thing.
Davis: I think it should go to the player that has the most impact on his team.
Scoop: But it's an individual award?
Davis: Still. That's why LeBron got it so many times. He makes everybody on his team better. You put him on any team and he's going to make that team better with his passing, scoring and leadership. So I think, more than individual stats, even though they play a big part, which player helped his team out the most in the end and helped the players around him the most should get it. I think those are the two biggest factors. It's not all about you in the game of basketball. That whole "there is no I in team." I think it's more of a combination of someone's stats and how well they help their team and get their teammates involved.
Scoop: So if a dude is ballin' out of his mind but his team isn't necessarily winning, that can't be held against him. That's on the GM and the owner for not putting better players around him and building a team, or the coach for not getting the most out of everyone's talents. You can't fault the one player for what everyone else on the team isn't doing.
Davis: That's true, but at the same time people can look at that as he's really not making his team better, so how valuable is he really? I mean, being a leader, you have to sacrifice your points, your rebounds, your assists, whatever to make the team better. And once you give your teammates confidence, they are going to want to give you the ball so that you can put up MVP numbers. I mean, I think it's a combination of both. There's no real right answer. It's on the guys who judge and vote and see how they think. But from my perspective, I've always looked at it from the other way.
Scoop: I hate the fact that you are 22 years old and are smarter than me. That's a damn shame.
Davis: [laughing] That's what six months of school will do for you.
Scoop: [laughing] Speaking of that -- 1996, 2012, 2015: Which is the best (University of) Kentucky team?
Davis: No question, 2012. No question. And the thing is, the '96 team and this year's '15 team would probably say the same thing, that they're better. I mean, all are great teams, obviously, but we didn't really have any close games. And the way we played, the way we were all together -- not saying that the '15 team isn't, and I didn't even watch the '96 team play (Davis was only 3 years old at the time) -- but I think the '15 team is better defensively than us. But scoring-wise, I think we were a little more skilled.
At the end of the day, we had two shot-blockers: Terrence (Jones) blocked shots, I blocked shots, and I know they have Willie (Cauley-Stein) and Karl-Anthony Towns, but I think it would be tough for any of those guys to guard Terrence with the way he played, with him shooting 3s, handling the ball, attacking the rim, posting up. It would have been tough -- with Doron (Lamb) with his shooting, you couldn't leave him open, and you had Darius (Miller) coming off the bench, Kyle Wiltjer coming off the bench.
Scoop: MKG (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist).
Davis: Yeah, we just had a great team.
Scoop: So you are saying that if these three UK teams got into a Final Four with another team from another school to round it out, your 2012 squad is walking away with the crown?
Davis: Yeah, exactly! I mean, we won it all ... '96 won too, and '15 hasn't won yet, but if they win, it's a totally different story. That's 40-0, that's just -- they'll have something to argue about. I think it'd be a great game, a fun game to see, but no question, 2012 would win.