Anthony Davis is on track to accomplish things on the basketball court that only the greats of the game have. The signs are everywhere that he is primed to be the NBA’s next generational frontcourt talent.
He plays power forward and center. Davis played college basketball for the University of Kentucky for one season before being selected first overall in the 2012 NBA draft by New Orleans. That summer, he earned a gold medal playing with Team USA at the 2012 Summer Olympics. After his rookie season, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. The next season, he became an NBA All-Star for the first time and led the NBA in blocked shots per game.
In Davis’ only season at Kentucky, he was a unanimous first team All-American and the Consensus National Player of the Year. He also won Freshman, Defensive Player and Big Man of the Year. Davis led the NCAA in blocks and set Southeastern Conference and NCAA Division I freshman single-season blocked shots records. Davis led Kentucky to a National Championship and was named Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament.
Davis declared for the 2012 NBA Draft alongside the rest of the national championship team starting five. At the 2012 NBA Draft Combine, Davis measured at 6 feet 9.25 inches (2.06 m), 221.8 pounds (100.6 kg) and had the second longest wingspan—7 feet 5.5 inches (2.27 m) of any player participating. On June 28, the New Orleans Hornets selected Davis with the first overall pick. On July 24, 2012, Davis signed a three-year $16 million guaranteed contract with the Hornets as prescribed by the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.
November 8th, 2013 was the night Anthony Davis really arrived as an NBA star. The New Orleans Pelicans were hosting the Los Angeles Lakers, pitting former All-Everything center Pau Gasol against the 2012 No. 1 pick. What happened from the opening tip to the final buzzer sounding was a complete and utter destruction, as Davis finished the night with a career-high 32 points, 12 rebound and six blocks.
At just 20 years old, Davis has been everything a franchise dreams about when they land the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Trying to single out the right guy with the first pick in hand is a gamble, but selecting a 6’10 big man with a 7’4” wingspan and freakish athleticism is as simple a choice as splitting aces in blackjack. You do it immediately and never think twice.
He’s averaging the mythical 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in his second year in the NBA, joining Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and fellow Kentucky Wildcat DeMarcus Cousins as the lone four players accomplishing the feat through the first half of the season. He’s the only one in that group that’s also averaging over two blocks per game, and by a large margin.
Did I mention he’s just 20 years old and in the second year of his career? As a point of comparison, it took Kevin Garnett — the player often mentioned as Davis’ upside — four seasons before he broke into the 20/10 club.
It’s been over a decade since a player OF ANY AGE has averaged at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. It’s been two decades since a 20-year-old player has accomplished the incredible feat — the last under-21 player to do it was Shaquille O’Neal. Only Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson HAVE EVER finished a season also averaging at least 1.5 steals per game on top of the rebound, scoring and block averages.
Davis’ athletic tools were given to him so he could become a defensive demon, and he’s already wreaking havoc across the NBA. Davis is especially dangerous because he dominates in areas where he can use his physical tools while he refines his skill set. He kills teams in transition, using his great speed and long strides to propel him in front of unset defenses. He’s great at reading the defense, moving off-ball and sneaking around the baseline. He rolls to the rim with a purpose and pounds thunderous dunks down after grabbing offensive rebounds.
He’s 101 games into his career and already blurring the line between possibility and reality each time he steps onto the court; a 6’10″ do-it-all player who’s dominating the league while just beginning to learn his craft. All that potential and nothing but the stars to leap toward.
Anthony Davis looks like a true star in the making, eclipsing various players who are even 6-7 years his senior in the league. His all-round determination and unconditional love for the game have been instrumental in endearing him to the New Orleans faithful. They look up to this humble 21 year-old as their idol and this alone speaks volumes of his maturity and ability to handle pressure. He seems almost oblivious to the myriad of expectations resting on his shoulders every time he starts a game. The calm and composed Anthony Davis changes into a dominating beast the second the referee blows the whistle.
Anthony Davis is most definitely here to stay. It is imperative that he stays on this track and it is expected that the Pelicans will build an industrious and hardworking team around him to ensure that they become serious contenders in the NBA.