Ranking Anthony Davis’ Historic Playoff Debut


Anthony Davis loves setting records.

In his rookie season he had the highest PER in history for a 19-year-old.

In his sophomore season he had the highest PER in history for a 20-year-old, and this season, as you might expect, he had the highest PER in history for a 21-year-old.

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He’s also the only player outside of Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Wilt Chamberlain to ever have a PER over 30.

If Davis ever wins an NBA World Championship, he will be the only player in history with an NCAA title, a FIBA International world championship, an Olympic gold medal AND an NBA title. No player in history has achieved all four in his professional career.

April 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23, right) shoots the basketball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23, left) during the first quarter in game two of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This month Davis got his first taste of the NBA playoffs, at just 22 years old he averaged 31.5 Points, 11.0 Rebounds, 2.0 Assists, 1.3 steals and 3.0 blocks on 54% shooting from the floor.

So where does that debut rank all time?

Let’s compare him with other Hall of Fame big men and find out.

Kevin Garnett‘s first playoff series was against the Houston Rockets in 1997.

Feb 25, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett (21) waves to fans during a game against the Washington Wizards at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

KG was in his second season and he played three games in that series while averaging 17.3 Points, 9.3 Points on 47% shooting in 41 minutes. Clearly Anthony Davis was better by his first series, but KG was also two years younger at the time.

At age 22 Kevin Garnet averaged 21.8 Points, and 12 Rebounds on 44% shooting in 42 minutes per game in his first round series, before being eliminated in four games. Clearly Anthony Davis was superior in his first series, and at age 22.

Tim Duncan played his first playoff series in 1998. He averaged 20.2 Points and 9.7 Rebounds while playing 40 minutes a game and shooting 55% from the floor. He was 21 at the time though, so let’s look at his first playoff series at age 22.

Duncan averaged 18.7 Points and 10.7 rebounds on 46% shooting in 42 minutes per game. Once again, Davis was far superior both times. Davis produced far more than Duncan, while doing it at an even higher level of efficiency.

Hakeem Olajuwon played his first playoff series at age 22 just like Davis.

Jan 28, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; NBA former player Hakeem Olajuwon waves to the crowd during the game between the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Hakeem averaged 21.2 Points and 13.0 Rebounds while shooting 47% from the floor and playing 37 minutes per game. That’s right, Davis was that far ahead of Hakeem Olajuwon in his first playoff series.

Clearly Davis on path for an amazing playoff career. Only him, Bob McAdoo, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have averaged 30 and 10 in their first four playoff games. If Davis progresses at even HALF the pace KG, Duncan and Hakeem did he will set records in the modern era which will stand for decades.

Here’s something else to think about, Davis will take next years playoffs personally. He could have single-handedly won game 3 for the Pelicans by hitting one key late game free throw, and instead he watched the Pelicans utterly embarrass themselves in front of the entire league.

Next year Davis will get a chance to get revenge on whoever is unfortunate enough to face him in the first round. He’s the youngest player every to average 30 and 10 in their first four games, so he’s on pace to put up Shaq-like prime playoff numbers.

It was hard to watch the Pelicans get swept this month, but Pelicans fans should take solace in knowing they witnessed one of the greatest playoff debuts in NBA history.

Apr 25, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) talk following game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at the Smoothie King Center. The Warriors defeated the Pelicans 109-98. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Davis sets records everywhere he goes, and a perennial appearance in the playoffs and an eventual NBA World Championship, are his next destination…….

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