Anthony Davis should be applauded for this, so hopefully people keep an open mind. He's wrong, but his perspective is laudable. In an interview with The Jump's Rachel Nichols, Davis explained why he considers himself the best player in the NBA today. Because Nichols is the best interviewer in the business (why do you think Jimmy Butler's people chose her for his post-practice chat), she challenged him on the notion, mentioning LeBron James and Kevin Durant, the consensus top two in the league right now. Brow didn't back down, though. Fast-forward to 1:18 for the conversation's beginning:
"Honestly, I see myself as the best player in the league, the most dominant player in the league," Davis said. "I just think it's time for that step. You only get a short window, and I don't want that window to close, so I think my time is now." After Nichols brought up James and Durant, Davis responded:
"Don't get me wrong, those two are great players. But, I don't think—um—I bring something unique to the table. My game is different than both of those guys. Both ends of the floor. Both MVP candidate and Defensive Player of the Year candidate. So that's why I feel like my name should be at the top of that list."
He hesitated when he was about to say KD and James don't play on both sides of the ball, but he switched so it was more about what he can do, and less about what they can't, or more likely, don't have the energy to do, which is dominate on the defensive side of the ball. This is true, by the way, though Durant has improved on that end since he's been in the Bay. But James has been coasting on defense during the regular season for the last couple of years (the postseason, however, is a different story).
At this point, Nichols brought up the fact that both James, Durant, and Steph Curry all have multiple rings, and asked him plainly, "How much do you think winning has to be a part of that conversation?" (She really is the best right now). Here's how Davis answered:
"Well, I think it's a big part. Winning definitely helps everything; It helps with your legacy; It helps to be on the top of that list. So, for me, yes people see everything that I do, but not going far in the playoffs, or going to the playoffs every three years doesn't help my case."
Nichols acknowledged that "you can only go as far as the team around you is built to go," but then she expertly pivoted to what everyone is speculating about, which is Davis' future in New Orleans. "Will there be a point for you, that if the Pelicans can't get you deep into the NBA playoffs, that you'll have to think about going somewhere else?" Again, there's no one better at challenging stars than Nichols.
"At this point, it's just about winning for me," Davis answers diplomatically. "Being the most dominant player in the league. And, whenever that time comes, I have a great team behind me, who advise me on my decisions. But my focus right now, is focus on this year, focus on our game tomorrow in preseason and starting the season off right."
Nichols then brought up the fact Davis switched agents, signing with Rich Paul's Klutch Sports, who also happen to represent LeBron. She mentioned how that move has led people to speculate that maybe he'll join the Lakers when he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2021, or even earlier if he tells the Pellies he's not going to re-sign and they should trade him so they get some value in return.
Davis might be on the cusp of being the best in the NBA, or maybe he already is. Like he admitted to Nichols, we can't answer that until he proves it in the playoffs.
What we can say is that Rachel Nichols is the best at what she does, and it's not even close.