West Watch: Pelicans’ Anthony Davis’ Sheer Domination Could be Unparalleled
By Brett David Roberts
Oct 14, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) drives past Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones (6) during the first quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The highest PER ever was Michael Jordan’s 31.7 in 1987-88, his fourth season in the NBA.
15 is the standardized average based on offensive efficiency; and the highest ever recorded by a power forward was Charles Barkley with a 28.9 in 1990-91 with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Anthony Davis is so far above the rest of the power forwards in the league, through this season’s small sample size thus far, that he’s posted a PER of 35.16.
The standard is lower for big men than in eras ago, but the distance Davis has made between himself in the rest of the pack has never been greater by any player ever.
He’s attempting 17.4 shots a game and hitting 56.1 percent, while also hitting 77 percent from the line. His per-game stats work out to 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and somehow in today’s modern era an outlier of 4.1 blocks and 2.3 steals (which have no factor in PER).
Of players that play significant minutes, no one is anywhere close.
Again: Davis’ PER is 35.16.
Dirk Nowitzki is No. 2 at 28.02, while No. 3 is Derrick Favors at 24.09.
What makes this most stunning is the fact that Davis can easily continue this production. His 60.5 percent true shooting percentage is no mirage.
Nov 12, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) dunks over Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) and forward Wesley Johnson (11) during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Lakers 109-102. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Prior to the short stint in a major blowout against the Wolves last night, he’d scored 24 points or more in the last four games with double-digit boards in all of them.
Jun 11, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs former player David Robinson attends game three of the 2013 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Compare this to a 24-year old David Robinson as a rookie with the San Antonio Spurs in 1989-90: 24.3 points, 12 rebounds, 3.9 blocks, while shooting 53.1% FG and 73.7 percent from the line.
Granted Davis’ sample size is small, but if he continues at even a moderate pace, he can compare to these marks set by the Admiral, or surpass them. But Davis is just TWENTY-ONE. By the time he is 24, it stands to reason he’s diversified his game, expanded it…and become nearly unstoppable.
His condor-like wingspan and pogo stick legs just give him too much elevation for interior defenders to stop. He can shoot the ball both from the high post and free throw line.
There really isn’t any kind of defense to counter Davis, nor any player in the league capable of putting the clamps on him at this point.
Physicality is no longer an issue for Davis who is significantly broader and stronger than his rookie season. As he matures, he’ll continue to get bigger, and even if he doesn’t, he can handle the 4-spot against any power forward the Association throws at him. He’s indicated he’s best at power forward, so there is no need to push his transition to center as was done with Dwight Howard in Orlando.
Robinson turned the San Antonio Spurs into a 56-win team after winning just 21 games the season prior, an improvement of 35 wins. The New Orleans Pelicans won 34 games last season, and a bump to a 56 win team seems unlikely. But that is largely in part due to the disparity between the Eastern Conference and Western Conference at this point.
The Pelicans have won five of its first eight contests, and Monty Williams has improved his win totals the last four seasons since the nucleus that was bounced from the first round of the playoffs in 2010-11, featuring Chris Paul and David West.
This Pelicans squad has the potential to be the best Williams has coached. The team won 46 games his first season, and improving from 34 last year to 45-48 is within the realm of possibility. This is a team many have considered to be enough of a “sleeper” (meaningless term) team that may sneak into the eighth seed of the playoffs.
It’s far too early to know for sure, but Pelicans just obliterated the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 15 to the tune of 139-91. Seven players were in double figures and even Austin Rivers was 8-of-9 from the floor with a triple.
The Pelicans may not trounce many more teams like that, but with Davis’ rapid improvement, this team could snag a playoff berth, gain postseason experience and come back next season with a chance to improve yet again.