"M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!"
Anthony Davis deserved every one of those chants he heard when he stepped to the free-throw line in the Smoothie King Center this season.
He had the numbers to prove it, finishing fourth in the league in scoring (28.0), seventh in rebounding (11.8) and second in blocked shots (2.2).
And that doesn't even include all Davis' other highlights that New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry had written on a card tucked inside his suit coat during Thursday's season-ending media conference.
Forty-nine double doubles.
Eight games of 40 or more points.
Three games with at least 20 rebounds.
And 14 games where he scored at least 30 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.
That last stat happened just 42 times this season, and Davis was responsible for a league-best 14 of them.
But despite those lofty numbers, it's THESE two numbers (34 and 48) that will keep Davis out of the MVP discussion.
Those numbers comprise the Pelicans' record this season, a record that kept them out of the playoffs while also keeping AD out of the MVP conversation.
"I think if we were better overall record-wise as a team, there is no doubt he'd be in the conversation," Gentry said.
But when it comes to handing out MVPs, winning is everything.
Only two players , Bob Pettit in the first year the award was given, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1975-76 season, have won the award while playing on a team with a losing record. And Abdul-Jabbar is the only one to win it in a season his team didn't make the playoffs.
The numbers AD put up this season are likely good enough for him to pick up a few fifth-place votes from media members who turned in their ballots Friday.
But the MVP winner, which won't be announced until June 26, will be one of the two players going head-to-head in the first round of the playoffs in a series that starts Sunday: Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook or Houston's James Harden. Yes, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard and Cleveland's LeBron James will get plenty of votes as well, but it's really just a two-man race.
And it'll be a close one.
Westbrook averaged a triple-double (31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists), something that hasn't been done since Oscar Robertson in the 1961-62 season. (Robertson, by the way, didn't win MVP that season.)
Harden was just 1.9 rebounds per game shy of a triple double himself, averaging 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and a league-best 11.2 assists. The Beard's Rockets won eight more games than Westbrook's Thunder.
Harden notched 22 triple-doubles this season.
Westbrook recorded 42 triple-doubles, which is 41 more than the Pelicans had this season.
Tim Frazier, whose name likely will stump folks years from now when the trivia question is asked of who had the Pelicans' lone triple-double this season, can appreciate Westbrook's feats.
"The guy is amazing, a freak athlete," Frazier said. "... I'm happy to be a part of it to say I had a triple-double in the NBA and to say I did it in the same season that Russell and James and LeBron all those guys went crazy this season doing it."
Who'll win it?
I've gone back and forth throughout the season.
Harden, who elevated the Rockets (minus Dwight Howard) from an 8 seed a year ago to a 3 seed this year, probably should.
Westbrook, the triple-double machine who singlehandedly carried the Thunder after Kevin Durant bailed, probably will.
"It's hard to pick that," Frazier said. "I'm glad I am not in that position to have to pick. You can't go wrong with Russell, and you can't go wrong with James. All the candidates have the stats to prove they should be MVPs."
Anthony Davis has the stats to be in the conversation, too.
It's too bad he doesn't have the wins to go with the performance.