CLEVELAND — When the New Orleans Pelicans drafted Anthony Davis with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, this is what they envisioned.
In just his third season in the league, Davis is fifth in the NBA in scoring (24.4 points per game), first in rebounds (12.8 rpg) and first in blocks (4.4 bpg). Those are Davis’ numbers through five games, and the Pelicans (3-2) have won two in a row.
Their previous win, a 100-99 victory at the defending champion San Antonio Spurs, came after Davis hit a game-winning layup.
These reasons and more are why some consider the 6-foot-11 forward/center a legit MVP candidate this season.
"I think he’s one of the elite players, yeah, for sure," Cavaliers star LeBron James said of Davis. "If he continues to keep growing, he’ll be a superstar."
As a four-time MVP and two-time champion, James should know. James and the Cavs (2-3) host Davis and the Pelicans for the only time this season Monday (7 p.m. ET, FOX Sports Ohio).
Interestingly, Davis has been putting up similar numbers to another former No. 1 overall pick — no less than Tim Duncan of the Spurs. Duncan was drafted in 1997 and has won five championships.
And check this out: Duncan averaged 21.3 points on 53 percent shooting, and compiled 11.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in his first two seasons. Davis averaged 17.3 points on 52 percent from the floor, along with 9.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.
So through two years, Davis is on pace to be quite Duncan-like statistically. That’s a big difference from when Davis first came into the league, and most were comparing him to former New York Knicks center Marcus Camby, who became sort of an NBA journeyman.
Davis has become a similar rebounder and swatter of shots as Camby, "but Marcus Camby couldn’t score like he can," James said.
For now, James remains The King of the NBA. But Davis, 21, could be in line as the NBA’s next great superstar. No less than James himself has said so.
And Davis himself admits the MVP chants from fans — normally reserved for James, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant — have been humbling.
"It’s crazy because when I was younger I watched LeBron, Kobe, K.D., all those guys, and you could hear through the TV chanting," Davis said. "And now they’re cheering for me."