NBA: New Orleans’ young pretender ready to claim MVP honours

The betting to be crowned NBA MVP for the 2015/16 season contains a number of household names at its skinny end.

Four-time winner LeBron James is the 11/4 favourite. Who else would it be? But behind him sit a trio of challengers at 5/1.

Two of them, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, have won the award in the past two years. The third is a 22-year-old about to embark on just his fourth season in the league and plays for a team rated 40/1 to win the NBA Championship.

Despite that, Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans is the 5/1 shot that all NBA fans should be backing, because he is just that good.

The former number one draft pick has been unrivalled as the NBA’s best young player since his rookie season, but is poised to break into higher company this year.

In 2014/15 Davis was phenomenal. He was fourth in points-per-game and finished a higher proportion of his shots than any of the league’s top-40 scorers. He also led his peers in blocks and showcased a mid-ranger jumpshot that he added to his arsenal during the offseason.

Now, after another summer of work, Davis has stretched his range to beyond the three-point line. He will be an even greater scoring force and a nightmare to defend.

His performances last year were ultimately overlooked in the MVP race because Curry led a team that put together one of the greatest seasons in the history of the NBA.

Usually, a player with MVP hopes needs his side to make a deep playoff run in order to claim the award. Unfortunately for Davis, he is the only superstar on the Pelicans roster and as a result the side don’t stand to make much of a Championship impression.

The Pelicans are also facing the prospect of starting the term completely hamstrung by injuries. But that is a good thing for Davis’ MVP push.

If he can single-handedly keep the Smoothie King Centre club in the playoff race, in the harder Western Conference no less, while waiting for his cavalry to arrive, his case for the game’s top individual honour cannot be ignored.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.