If you read our player rankings for the Finals, you may have noticed that not all of us agreed that Anthony Davis is a better player than Bam Adebayo.
Davis finished in second place, whereas Adebayo finished in fourth, but Davis received some third place votes while Adebayo received some second place votes. (Neither of them received first place votes. There's a pretty clear reason for that).
Is there actually a case to be made that Adebayo is the better player right now? Our NBA.com Staff debates.
Alex Novick (@anov_SN): Let me make clear that I think Anthony Davis is a phenomenal player, and clearly more freakishly talented than Bam Adebeyo. But it's Adebayo's intangible qualities, combined with his talent, that make him a better all-around player.
When you consider the short list of the NBA's elite - guys like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, Chris Paul, even Jimmy Butler - they all come equipped with a mental edge to their game that pairs with their supreme talent to set them apart. That type of elevated approach can manifest in characterstics like leadership, toughness, unrelenting tenacity, seeing the floor at a higher level, creativity and craftiness, unflappable confidence, extraordinary discipline or an intangible knack to rise to the occasion. Those superstars personify these qualities, and those qualities are top of mind when analyzing their game.
So, quick reaction: which intangible strength personifies Anthony Davis? You may need some time to think. It's not to say he's a mentally weak player - he's not - but none of those aforementioned qualities would be at the forefront of your brain if you were asked to describe him. Past arguments have been made that the lack of some of these traits was a primary reason Davis only had one career playoff series victory before joining the Lakers.
Adebayo, on the other hand, embodies a number of these winning qualities to a high degree. His vocal leadership and toughness are on full display as he shoulders the huge load of being the primary anchor of the Heat defense. His floor-vision as a creator is not Jokic-level, but still premium for a centre who averaged 5.2 assists in the Eastern Conference Finals. When the Heat were stagnant in the fourth quarter of Game 6 against Boston, Adebayo tapped into a previously unseen takeover-mode that led to career-high 32 points in the biggest game of his life.
Oh, and this is the 23-year-old's first postseason as a starter.