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Watch: Davis & Giannis Lay Down NBA MVP Gauntlet

Watch: Davis & Giannis Lay Down NBA MVP Gauntlet

The NBA is finally back, with 26 of the league's 30 teams having already played their opening games. Last night saw 22 teams in action, with some huge performances on show. Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo enter this season as two of the front-runners for MVP, and they are already laying down their case for the award.

Davis led the Pelicans to a 131-119 victory over the Houston Rockets, and his numbers in that game were beyond on belief. He put up 32 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks: a stat line that has not been seen in the NBA since Shaquille O'Neal did it in in 2001.

He also contributed some highlight reel plays, such as this alley-oop finish off an Elfrid Payton lob.

This was a real statement victory for the Pelicans, with the Rockets coming within one game of advancing to the NBA Finals last season. New Orleans have consistently failed to put the right pieces around 'The Brow' ever since he was drafted first overall  in 2012, but the team finally seems to have a nice balance to it.

Davis was incredible for the last few months of the 2017/18 season, and if he can continue that form throughout this campaign he could claim his first MVP.

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Meanwhile, Giannis put up his own monster numbers as the Bucks took down the Charlotte Hornets on a 113-112 scoreline. He had 25 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists in the victory, as new coach Mike Budenholzer got off to a winning start.

Many feel that Giannis is ready to take the leap into the MVP conversation, with his numbers improving every year he has been in the league. He seems almost unstoppable at times, both in the open court and under the rim.

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The 'Greek Freak' is set for a huge year, and will be a triple-double machine. He will be the primary ball handler for the Bucks, and his combination of speed and size will make him a match-up nightmare for opposing coaches.

LeBron James enter the season as the prohibitive favourite for this year's MVP crown, but Davis and Giannis will surely also be in the conversation. Their teams need them to put up huge numbers on a nightly basis in order to compete, and this will aid their cause.

A lot of the voting for the award will, however, come down to team records at the end of the regular season, so both the Pelicans and Bucks will need to see a sizeable bump in the wins column if their franchise players are to take home the trophy.

SEE ALSO: Irish NBA Prospect Narrows College Choice Down To Final Four Schools

Gary Connaughton

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