Superstardom, untold MVP nods, the pantheon of the gods, and much more await 21-year-old Anthony Davis. Already one of the league’s best players, this coming season is about to become the big man’s footstool—his unibrow serving as the crown of a king that just set the league ablaze.
Outside of the realm of hyperbole, the coming year will be a splendid one for the phenom. Already in the past year, Davis climbed to the top of league categories posting first in Block Percentage (6.7), first in Blocks Per Game (2.8), fourth in PER (26.5), 10th in Rebounds Per Game (10.0), and seventh in Win Shares Per 48 Mins. (.212).
More importantly, he put those gaudy numbers up with his principal cast (Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson, and Jrue Holiday) out for a majority of the year. In reality, only one player on the New Orleans Pelicans played a total of 80 games or more on the team and that was Al-Farouq Aminu. The second highest was Anthony Morrow with 76 games played. Brian Roberts and Tyreke Evans with 72. Then Austin Rivers with 69. So, Davis, the principal option on a bad team, had to dominate while playing as the principal option on a bad, weakened team.
With any luck, Davis will be able to count on a more intact supporting cast this year. Also, with the addition of Omer Asik at the five, Davis’ growth should only rise further.
As NBA.com’s shotchart shows, Davis does his most damage from within the paint (many times on fastbreaks), and from just inside the right corner three territory. Having a guy like Asik around won’t just help him with patrolling the court better, it’ll force him into expanding the breadth his game. Davis has already shown a willingness to work on all facets of his game and developing a more reliable post game and midrange game could send the league into cold sweats.
Davis’ offensive leap has been the most surprising and impressive as he was already expected to be a defensive presence. When compared to the sophomore version of other great power forwards like Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, AD projects ahead in that area.
Davis’ Points Per 100 Possessions (30.8) was higher than Duncan’s (29.9) and Garnett’s (23.1). So was his Offensive Rating: 119 to Duncan’s (106) and Garnett’s (107). His True Shooting Percentage (58.2) also beat out the other two (54.1 and 53.7). In Win Shares (10.4), Davis also overcame the two legends. In taking care of the ball and defensive categories like Defensive Rebound Percentage and Blocks Per 100 Possessions, Davis also comes out on top.
Granted, not everyone is perfect.
Davis’ stats still haven’t translated to many wins for the Pels. In terms of team impact, they haven’t yet crossed over to the promise land of improved winnings. In terms of Wins Above Replacement, the estimated number of wins attributable to one individual player on his team, Davis, at 5.46 Wins attributable to him, falls at No. 73 in the league. That’s shades below guys like Danny Green (6.13), Draymond Green (6.54), and even Nick Collison (6.90). His Defensive Rating, an arena where he is supposed to be elite, Davis is somewhere in between Nick Young and Reggie Evans.
Still, for such a young gun, Davis should rightly be afflicted with some weaknesses. Thing is, the older he gets, the less glaring those will be. And, already, his strengths have looked too vast for the NBA to handle.
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