Anthony Davis, who led the New Orleans Pelicans to the playoffs with his stellar play on both ends of the court, was selected first-team All-NBA on Thursday.
It is the first such honor for Davis, the first player selected in the 2012 draft and a Western Conference All-Star starter this season for the first time. He is the first New Orleans player to be first-team All-NBA since Chris Paul made the team in 2008.
Davis, the former Kentucky All-American, led the NBA in blocked shots (2.94 per game) for the second consecutive season. He finished fourth in the league in scoring at 24.4 points per game, was seventh in field goal percentage (53.5) and averaged 10.2 rebounds per game (eighth in the league) as the Pelicans went 45-37 and reached the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Davis, responding to questions about any NBA awards he might earn said, “I just play to win games,” a day after the Pelicans’ season ended. “I think I showed that I improved as a player, but the most important thing is that we also got better as a team.”
He joined Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry and Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James, the top two vote-getters, along with Houston Rockets guard James Harden and Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol on the first team.
Both Curry, named the league’s Most Valuable Player, and James had the maximum 129 first-place votes and 645 total votes. Harden had 125 first-place votes and 637 total votes, and Davis was next with 119 and 625. Gasol had 68 first-place votes and 453 total votes.
Davis led the league in Player Efficiency Rating and, at 30.8, finished with the 11th highest rating in league history. He also led the NBA in Player Impact estimate, which measures a players’ overall statistical contribution against the total stats in the games he plays.
Davis also was selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive second team Wednesday after finishing fourth last month in the MVP balloting.
Monty Williams, the Pelicans’ head coach fired May 12, said there’s no question Davis is one of the best players in the league, and said Davis deserved to be All-NBA as well as a strong candidate for MVP.
“As much as any player in the league, he is a two-way performer,” Williams said. “He not only leads his team in scoring and is one of the top rebounders in the league, but he blocks shots and he is a big man who also gets steals (1.5 per game).
“Look at how many games he has had six, eight, nine blocked shots in a game.”
If Davis is selected next year to the All-NBA first team, or if he is again selected an All-Star starter, he will put himself in line for a big-money contract. Known as the Derrick Rose Rule, if Davis accomplishes the aforementioned, he could command an offer from the Pelicans that is 30 percent of the team’s salary cap as opposed to 25 percent, which other teams could offer.
The Pelicans can offer Davis a five-year, $144 million contract July 1.
If Davis declines, he will be a restricted free agent, a move that would allow the Pelicans to match another team’s offer by giving Davis an offer of $9 million. Under his current deal, Davis is due to receive $7.7 million next season.