Anthony Davis has challenger for top rookie
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Davis is the next big thing. There’s no real doubt about this; Davis dominated college basketball last season and has made a smooth transition as a 19-year-old to the NBA game.
But he might not be the current big thing, even among rookies.
USA TODAY Sports’ NBA power rankings committee turned away from Davis this week after last week picking him as the frontrunner for rookie of the year. Instead, Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard took four of the six first-place votes.
Lillard averages 19.0 points and 6.1 assists a game, but his biggest advantage may be that he logs 37.5 minutes a game, 8.3 more than any other first-year player. Davis only averages 28.2 minutes a game, but that may be deceiving because he only played 14 Nov. 2 before leaving with a concussion. The No. 1 overall draft pick averages 16.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks a game.
The rookie of the year race was the tightest of the three we’re keeping track of with our weekly power rankings. Here were the top five teams (voting was conducted before Monday night’s games):
1. Memphis Grizzlies: They swept the first-place votes before a loss Monday.
2. New York Knicks: Their only loss came to the Grizzlies last week.
3. San Antonio Spurs: They have the best record in the NBA over the past three seasons even after Monday’s loss.
4. Los Angeles Clippers: Expect them to rise if they keep up this hot streak.
5. Miami Heat: They make it look too easy sometimes.
The MVP race was nearly as lopsided, with a repeat from last week. Here’s the voting (points on a 7-5-3-2-1 scale):
1. LeBron James, Heat (35 points, four first-place votes)
2. Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder (25 points)
3. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (19 points, one first-place vote)
4. Chris Paul, Clippers (15 points, one first-place vote)
5. Tim Duncan, Spurs, and Carmelo Anthony, Knicks (six points each)
Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Zach Randolph of the Grizzlies each received one fifth-place vote.
Finally, let’s take a look at how we ranked the rookies (points on a 5-3-1 scale):
1. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (26 points, … [For more on NBA power rankings: Anthony Davis has challenger for top rookie, click here.]