FIBA World Cup, NBA / Jul 30, 2014 / 12:00 pm

Reigning MVP Durant on Davis: “He’s Next In Line”

Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis (Derick Hingle, USATODAY)

Anthony Davis has been bound for superstardom since his senior of high school in 2011. All he’s done since is lead the Kentucky Wildcats to a national championship, get drafted first overall by the New Orleans Pelicans, and make the All-Star team and lead the NBA in blocks at 20 years-old. Expectations for Davis have been dangerously high for years, but he’s exceeded them – easily. Reigning MVP Kevin Durant recently forecasted even bigger things for Davis, saying that New Orleans’ burgeoning franchise player is “next in line” to win the award.

Jim Eichenofer of Pelicans.com has more on Durant’s glowing appraisal of his precocious USA Basketball teammate.

“I know how good he’s going to be,” the four-time NBA scoring champion said, after a USA Basketball practice. “I know how good he is now, but I know how good he’s going to be. He’s an MVP-caliber player. So he’s next. He’s next in line – a guy that has grown so much in just a year. I’m excited to see what he does from here. He’s definitely on pace.”

Durant, who’s on the same floor as Davis this week in Las Vegas for the first time since the All-Star Game, also took immediate notice of changes to Davis’ frame, the result of time spent in the weight room this summer.

“You can tell he’s getting bulkier, getting bigger, more confident. You can tell he’s working,” Durant said. “I’m excited for him. He’s a good friend of mine. I’ve seen him since he was a junior in high school. His growth from then to now is just phenomenal. He’s just growing every single day. He’s moving up the ladder every single day. It’s scary. Scary.”

Davis has made no secret of his efforts to add size and strength in the offseason. He’s reportedly up to 238-pounds after playing last season well below 230, and appears primed to continue gaining weight before 2014-2015 tips-off. That added bulk will come in even greater handy given the Pelicans’ acquisition of center Omer Asik; Davis won’t only be longer and quicker than most power forwards, but just as as strong, too.

His physicality will also be put to test for Team USA at the FIBA World Cup. Without LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Love, an even bigger onus will be placed on Davis ever-broadening shoulders. He’ll likely serve as the national team’s lone true big man for extended stretches, guarding opposing centers and performing the yeoman’s work of a role player in addition to providing ancillary scoring punch.

Mike Krzyzewksi certainly believes Davis is up to the task. Discussing his team’s sudden exodus of star power forwards, Coach K didn’t shy away from acknowledging the 21 year-old’s increased responsibilities.

“We lost two big guys in the last 48 hours, so we’re going to have to have active bigs,” USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after Monday’s initial training camp practice. “Our main guy is Anthony Davis. (We will) see who else fits in. But also see how they fit in with the other guys.”

In 2010, a 21 year-old Durant used the FIBA stage as his personal coming-out party, leading Team USA to gold and winning World Championships MVP. Davis’ role on the national team will be far different, but his overall impact can loom just as large.

Regardless, expect him to use the international stage as a springboard to a dominant 2014-2015 season. And if Durant is to be believed, don’t be shocked when Davis’ performance is good enough to be worthy of unseating KD as league MVP.

Will Davis be a MVP candidate in 2014-2015?

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  • FredCCoggins

    In 2010, a 21 year-old Durant used the FIBA stage as his personal coming-out party, leading Team USA to gold and winning World Championships MVP. Davis’ role on the national team will be far different, but his overall impact can loom just as large. http://ur1.ca/hvhaa

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