The NBA is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, and similar to when the league celebrated its 50th in 1996, a panel of basketball personalities came together to create a list of the 75 greatest players in NBA history. The list is composed of former and current NBA players, and with a list this big, there are naturally going to be some names that will raise some eyebrows. One name in particular that has ruffled many feathers is Anthony Davis, who not too long ago won his first NBA championship alongside LeBron James. The inclusion of the eight-time all-star is the most controversial of all the names on the list.
"No disrespect to Anthony Davis but before he got to LeBron James and won the championship with the Lakers. I mean you're trying to tell me if Anthony Davis was to retire right now he has a better career than Dwight Howard? No way."
Tracy McGrady, Sports Illustrated
Anthony Davis had yet to win a playoff series before arriving in Los Angeles to team up with LeBron James, making him a somewhat curious addition to the list. Not only had Davis failed to have much team success, but elite individual success has eluded him as well, making only four All-NBA teams and four All-NBA Defensive Teams. Davis has also never been in the conversation for regular-season MVP in his nine seasons in the league, despite being constantly referred to as a top-five talent nearly every single year. Does Davis deserve to be on the list? To remove a person, you need to have someone take their place, and in this instance, T-Mac makes a case for Dwight Howard.
Like Davis, Howard has eight NBA All-Star selections, but the big difference here is that AD will likely have many more while Dwight's days as an all-star are far behind him. Still, Howard is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and used his prowess on both ends of the floor to lead the Orlando Magic to their first finals appearance in over fifteen years when they played the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010. Howard has been selected to All-NBA teams eight times in his career and five All-NBA Defensive selections, feats that Davis can surpass if he can raise his game to a new level.
If we look at the careers of Howard and Davis right now, one could say that Howard has accomplished more just by sheer longevity. However, Dwight recorded these accolades within an eight-year window, from 2006-07 to 2013-14, which means that he accomplished more than Davis in eight seasons to AD's ten. Of course, AD played a more pivotal role in the one championship that he and Howard share, but Howard seems to be ahead of Davis in terms of career success.
Dwight is now reduced to being a role player in the latter stages of his career, which perhaps hurts how the basketball world perceives him. AD, on the other hand, is still getting started. Barring any unfortunate events, AD promises to be a star in this league for the rest of his career, and it seems the voting panel is banking on the fact that when it's all said and done, Davis will have a few rings and perhaps a Finals MVP under his belt. I can't help but feel that AD's inclusion is based on a prediction versus a resumé, leaving Howard on the wrong side of history.
Given Howard's impressive run during his prime, it's a shame to see him left off the list for a player whose story seems far from fully written and is looking more and more like a case of untapped potential. Dwight did have his fair share of bumps along the way, which probably hurt his chances, but to throw his accomplishments to the wayside seems unfair. With the Lakers struggling right now to put together connected efforts on the basketball floor, I can't help but wonder if this list is affecting team chemistry.
A few years ago, AD and Dwight were a terror frontline on both ends of the floor while they continue to look out of touch this year. Do the Lakers and the rest of the league feel like Anthony Davis gets too much credit for being the second-best player on a team that includes LeBron James? Is that affecting how he is respected in Los Angeles and beyond? We will never know for sure, but one thing we do know is that to prove he belongs on that list, Davis is going to have to start carrying this Laker team to some success.