After a stunning first game against the Warriors, Anthony Davis of the Lakers is asserting his claim to be the NBA’s finest player.

Davis is now realizing his immense potential.

This season, Anthony Davis is unlikely to be selected to an All-NBA squad. Domantas Sabonis of the Sacramento Kings gained the majority of the momentum for the third-team All-NBA center spot after missing 26 games and shockingly not being selected as an All-Star. The two of them now have a similar playoff foe, which is convenient.

The leading big man for Sacramento was bulldozed for seven games by Draymond Green and Kevon Looney. In comparison to Golden State’s interior tandem, Sabonis’ statistics for points, rebounds, and assists fell dramatically. In the playoffs, his field goal percentage dropped from above.600 in the regular season to below.500. Thirteen offensive rebounds in the third quarter that Sabonis was powerless to stop helped the Warriors win Game 7. On Sunday, he was powerless in the face of Green and Looney.

On Tuesday, the roles were flipped. The big guy for the Los Angeles Lakers was unanswerable for Green and Looney. Davis joined Tim Duncan as the only players in NBA history to finish a playoff game with 30 points, 20 rebounds, five assists, and four blocks. He became the first large since tracking started in 1997 to have 20 points and 10 rebounds in a playoff game by shooting 90% from the field in the first two quarters.

In the second half, Davis played all 24 minutes because the Lakers were terrified of playing the Warriors without him. By doing so, they dealt the Warriors only their 13th home defeat of the year. Because of Davis’ dominance on the interior, the Lakers became the second team in NBA history to win a game in which their opponent made 20 or more 3-pointers while they made only six or less themselves. Which team did it first? Additionally, despite that deficit, the 2022–23 Lakers defeated the Mavericks on February 26 with to Anthony Davis’ 30 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks. On the two players who had just attacked Sabonis, Davis delivered a historically significant inside beating.

The claim that Anthony Davis is a superior player to Domantas Sabonis is not particularly novel. A more important point is being served by the comparison. Davis has gone unnoticed and unappreciated the entire season. He’s already resolutely shown that he’s at least one of the NBA’s top three centers. Actually, he’s going a lot farther. Why can’t Davis claim the title of “best player in the NBA” during a potential championship run when it appears to be vacant at the moment?

We must first establish our terms in this context before considering his candidacy. Davis will never be a player that plays in 82 games. Durability is and will continue to be a drawback. It makes sense to stay away from Davis if you’re assembling a team from scratch. But the remaining schedule doesn’t have 82 games. If the only objective is to win the 2023 championship, Davis is building a compelling case for being selected. When all is said and done, there’s a good possibility he’ll be the one to take home the league’s most coveted metaphorical championship belt.

Davis’s inability to consistently create half-court shots is a legitimate criticism. That is a real weakness, but everyone running for office has one. This shortcoming is also shared by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was almost universally regarded as the “best player in the world” before to the Miami Heat’s first-round elimination of him. Joel Embiid recently received his long-awaited MVP title, but in the first round, the Brooklyn Nets limited him to just 20 points on 46.2% shooting. He now has a knee injury, In his six trips to the postseason, it led to him missing games for the fifth time. The sole instance? 2020 vs the Boston Celtics, a four-game sweep. The greatest offensive player in the group is Nikola Jokic, who is the winner of the previous two MVP awards. However, his defensive flaws have been exposed in his previous postseason defeats, one of which was against Davis. If their teams keep winning, Jokic and Embiid might get the chance to play Davis later in the postseason.

As the current Finals MVP, Stephen Curry is receiving his shot right now, and he is automatically the owner of our fictitious championship trophy. Given the 50-point Game 7 victory against the Kings two days prior, it would be difficult to hold Curry’s Game 1 loss against him. However, it is important to note that Curry made a playoff-high 13 2-pointers in that triumph. On Tuesday, he only succeeded on four of his seven attempts. He was frightened of going up against Davis at the rim, just like the rest of his teammates.

That is his main argument in these discussions. Curry cannot score, but there is an unbridgeable defensive gap between him and Curry. That is accurate of all of him, not just Curry. Both he and everyone else in the field can attest to this. Davis just defeated Jaren Jackson Jr., the Defensive Player of the Year, in the opening round. Here are their defensive stats from the first round in comparison:

Anthony Davis Jaren Jackson
Steals 8 6
Deflections 16 14
Blocks 26 12
Defensive Rebounds 64 27
Contested Shots 100 79
Field Goal Percentage Allowed 33.3% 41.6%

The sidekick debate is yet another. Even so, Davis is not the most well-known Laker. Both supporters and detractors will have a difficult time accepting the idea that this squad now belongs to Davis as long as LeBron James is on his club. James might not be the case if he were healthy. However, James’ season-threatening foot injury has radically altered the way he plays now. The lowest average of his playoff career, he is currently averaging just over 22 points per game. The majority of those images are also not all individually produced. He only attempted 2.3 shots per game in isolation and 2.2 attempts per game in pick-and-roll situations during the Memphis series. In the 2018 postseason, he averaged over 14 combined at his best. James is currently unable to carry the Lakers. Davis has the responsibility to do this.

As a Laker, he has never had to perform that duty for a lengthy period of time, so he is still getting used to it. Early in the season, while James was out, he was able to score over 32 points a game for a month, but he got hurt shortly after. There are still nights when the jumper doesn’t fall or when a small injury makes him fatal.

However, the James we saw in Game 1 against the Warriors, as well as for the most of the Memphis series and while he was injured during the regular season, was more than sufficient to lead the Lakers to a title. Also unlike your typical Lakers superteam is this one. He injured his co-star. His supporting cast consists mostly of young actors who have only joined him since February. He has a head coach in his first season who was chosen by a general manager who the fan base wanted fired.

And since Davis has beyond all of our expectations, none of it has mattered thus far in the postseason. He isn’t the best basketball player in the world right now, but there isn’t one either. Instead, the eight teams left are each led by exceptional but imperfect players who are competing for the fictitious championship. Davis is one of those stars, and at the moment, he is superior to them. If he keeps on this pace, he’ll not only win the NBA championship for the second time but also become the best player in the league for the first time.