Time to talk about the future of the New Orleans Pelicans. The talented, shot-blocking Kentucky product that fell into the Pelican’s hands when they won the first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. The comparisons to Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett can cease, because this guy is his own player: He’s Anthony Davis.
With all the hype for fellow rookie and Rookie of the Year winner Damian Lillard, everyone is forgetting about AD. Despite battling various injuries including a concussion, a stress fracture in his ankle, a sprained left shoulder, and a season-ending sprained MCL, Davis put up some impressive numbers for a rookie. Playing and starting in 64 games, Davis averaged 13.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.2 spg, 1.8 bpg, while shooting 51.6% from the field and 75% from the free throw line. Those numbers didn’t earn him Rookie of the Year honors, but they did earn him a spot on the All-Rookie First Team.
Those stats don’t say everything, however, as Davis scored 20 or more points 10 times, including his NBA debut against Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs in which he recorded a team-high 21 points. His offensive game was often scrutinized when he was at Kentucky, as he averaged a team-leading, yet less-than-dominant 14.2 ppg. Since then, he has improved his jump shot drastically, as he is now even considered by some as a stretch-4 for his ability to knock down the mid-range jumper and occasionally, the 3-pointer. We know his ball-handling skills are top-notch for a big man, as he was as point guard in high school, and his athleticism is second to none as evident in his ability to finish alley-oops as we’ve seen the past two years. The only real problem with Davis’s offensive game is his post game. Although this league is going small and games are turning into jump-shooting contests rather than a competition in the paint, a post game is still important, especially if the Pelicans want Davis to get some legitimate minutes at center. He added some weight in the off-season, and that should help, and he has a nice, reliable hook shot that can be used effectively. There is no need to worry about Davis’s offensive game, it will come with more coaching and NBA experience.
Forget his blossoming offensive skill set for a second and let’s remember that this guy is known for his defense. At 6’10 with a 7’5.5 wingspan, it’s no surprise that he has a knack for blocking shots. Yet he surprised all of us in his one season at the University of Kentucky. Davis blocked a total of 186 shots, good for the SEC single-season record and the NCAA Freshman single-season record. He also surpassed former Florida center Joakim Noah’s record for most blocks in an NCAA Tournament. Some might argue that blocking shots isn’t everything when it comes to defense. And they’re right. One-on-one post defense is the most underrated ability in the NBA, and the daily highlight reel blocks from players like Serge Ibaka and DeAndre Jordan take away from that. However, Pelican fans have nothing to worry about. Davis’s athleticism, quick feet, and fast reflexes allow him to, not only guard post players, but also small forwards, and maybe even some less athletic guards. The only concern, once again, would be his overall size and strength, which head coach Monty Williams is working with Davis about 24/7.
All in all, Anthony Davis is a beast. There is a reason he was picked #1 overall. He may need to add some strength in the future, but as far as we can see, he has the potential to become a new breed of NBA power forward and possibly change the position, and the New Orleans franchise while he’s at it. I can’t wait to see him in action next season.
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