Anthony Davis a near-miss for All-NBA, All-Defensive teams

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

New Orleans Pelicans second-year power forward Anthony Davis earned the greatest individual honor of his NBA career in February when he was named a 2014 Western Conference All-Star. However, so far Davis’ postseason has been filled with near-misses in the NBA’s award categories.

The 6-foot-10, 237-pounder received the 12th-most points among all NBA players in All-Defensive Team balloting, but only 10 players are named to the league’s pair of All-Defensive Teams. Meanwhile, in All-NBA voting, Davis finished 20th, but 15 players comprise the three All-NBA squads. Davis also garnered third place in Most Improved Player balloting, which was announced back on April 23.

A closer look at the results related to Davis:

ALL-DEFENSIVE

Despite leading the NBA in blocked shots per game (2.82) by a fairly significant margin, Davis was not selected to either of the two All-Defensive units. He did pick up 18 first-team votes, however, which was more than any player outside the top 10 of overall voting.

The voting results indicated a somewhat unusual split in the evaluation of Davis. Although there were 18 voters who chose Davis as a first-teamer – and 26 that voted for him to be a second-teamer – 79 of the 123 panelists did not include him on either squad.

ALL-NBA

Davis’ positional designation seemed to add some confusion for voters. He received one first-team vote at center (from Denver Nuggets TV analyst Scott Hastings), as well as two second-team votes apiece at forward and center. Though Davis started almost exclusively at power forward, according to Basketball-Reference.com he played 42 percent of his minutes in 2013-14 as a center.

Chicago Bulls radio analyst Bill Wennington and Los Angeles Clippers TV analyst Michael Smith boosted Davis’ chances to make an All-NBA team by casting second-team center votes for him.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

There were five first-time All-Stars at the Feb. 16 midseason showcase at Smoothie King Center, including Davis, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, Washington’s John Wall and Atlanta’s Paul Millsap. Perhaps not surprisingly, two of those players wound up finishing in the top eight of MIP voting.

Davis took third place, behind Phoenix winner Goran Dragic and Indiana’s Lance Stephenson, while DeRozan finished eighth (Millsap and Wall each received the equivalent of honorable mention by picking up one point each in the voting). Like in the All-Defensive balloting, Davis’ chances to prevail were hurt by being left off a significant number of ballots. Despite 16 first-place votes, the majority of 126 voters didn’t list him in their top three. Dragic was mentioned on 98 of the 126 ballots.