• Narv Mulchand

Believe the Hype

AD dunk ust.jpg

*Photo via USA Today

Anthony Davis turns 22 years old Wednesday and is graciously blooming in the NBA. The young stud might not be up for league MVP, but it goes without saying he is getting it done, dropping 43 points, 10 boards, 6 dimes, 2 blocks in Monday night’s win against the Bucks. These types of stats, I’m sure will be a recurring thing. AD continues to hold his own , by taking over games and hitting big shots in the critical moments.

Over the first five weeks of the season, Davis stood out as a top player in the league. After analyzing his game stats, he dominates the boards like Tyson Chandler, scores as much as Stephen Curry, and defends the basket better than Serge Ibaka. Davis continues to drive opponents mad as his development is skyrocketing. He ranks first in PER (player efficiency rating), a stat signifying a player’s overall game input.

Dominating his competition and satisfying the Pelicans ownership, Davis is provoking us to dream about how great he will become. His stats have NBA alumni raising their eyebrows. Davis is already drawing comparisons to Hall of Fame big men Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, and David Robinson.

These Hall of Fame members are a rare few to average; 25 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal per game over the course of an entire season. The former Wildcat is en route to joining a highly prestigious club. Davis has a point’s average of 25.5, 11.4 rebounds with 2.3 steals and 2.81 blocks per game. It may be early in his career, but at this point, he is nothing short of a tremendous ball player.

The last time an NBA player of any of age averaged 20 and 10 was over 10 years ago. Shaquille O’Neal rose to dominance with his powerful style of play to put up the 20 and 10 stats also, but that 20 years ago. Olajuwon and Robinson are the only 2 that have completed an 82 game season leading the league in scoring, rebounding, and block averages. Davis is already surpassing these league legends and making a name for himself.

With the athletic ability of a defensive monster, AD continues to wreak havoc across the NBA. Although he needs to pack on some muscle, his long wingspan creates problems at the basket and only making him harder to contain. He doesn’t’t have the size he needs to push people around nor hold his ground, but it is enough to alter the shots of players looking to attack down low.

Davis is holding his opponents to 40% on post-up situations. The 75% of time teams post him up, Davis has permitted only 30 made shots. When holding your competition to 0.81 points per possession, opponents can only ponder ways to prevent his highlight reel play on both ends of the floor. Protecting the rim is one of Davis’ stronger attributes. Davis is holding opponents to 45.8% when being challenged at the hoop.

When he isn't protecting the basket, Davis runs the floor and gets up and down faster than any big man in the league. His athleticism allows him to stay with his man in a clear out situation and he is taking advantage of his surreal wingspan.

Davis might not be the back-to-the-basketball type of player who can back defenders down with ease, but his confidence is only growing in that category. Davis has no problems sizing up his defenders and dominating them off the dribble with his first step. He is learning just how effective he can be for the Pelicans.

Head coach Monty Williams, who was league journeyman during his career, played with some elite talent. Williams states that playing with Tracy McGrady exposed him to just how good a player can be. He feels AD has the potential to do whatever he wants on the hardwood. Williams grants Davis unlimited freedom to test and grow his skills to a higher level.

The most alarming thing about Davis is that he has yet to reach the ceiling in his athletic development. He may be great, but league superstars like Kevin Durant and Dwayne Wade are wondering just how great he will be.

Davis has an understanding of the game that is beyond his years and that is much more advanced than other players in the league. His physical strength will only rise with the tough play and rigorous practices. Not to downgrade what he has already accomplished, his 220 pound frame is withstanding the games physicality's lovely.

He is already playing with the headlines of an elite superstar. Davis’ youthful, outgoing and good-natured personality causes us to forget that he is still a young pup in the NBA.

His road to the league is pretty fascinating, but popular nonetheless.

5 summers ago Davis didn't even ponder playing basketball for a living. Growing up in Englewood, a south side Chicago area, Davis is one of many who used basketball as their vehicle to get out of a tough neighborhood. With guard type handles and growth spurt later in high school, it became evident that he could earn himself a nice pay check playing basketball.

Davis’ aggressive, ambitious and competitive drive is something he continues to display night in and night out. He has the team leadership skills and the capacity to make those around him perform at a much higher caliber.

His attitude has playoffs written all over it. He expects to lead the Pelicans to the post season and compete fiercely against any of their potential match-ups. Making the playoffs has been Anthony's main focus all year as he wants to achieve something as a cohesive unit.

Surrounding Davis with some stronger talent would be a winning bet from Pelicans management. If New Orleans plans on contending for an NBA title, Davis will need some help to accomplish that feat. If more skilled players aren't brought down to the big easy, Davis could take a page out of LeBron’s book and head home, back home to Chicago.

To end all the chatter about the potential of Davis leaving New Orleans, Pelicans general manager, Dell Demps got busy making deals to keep their superstar around. Demps' resigned Eric Gordon to $58 million over 4 years. Former Magic sharpshooter Ryan Anderson inked a decent $36 million for 4 years deal through a sign and trade. Jrue Holiday was brought in and the Pels gave up big man Nerlens Noel. Deals were done for Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik to assist Davis and Austin Rivers was sent packing to L.A. . The changes are helping the Pelicans to finally see all the pieces fall into place.

Demps’ states that the best part of having Anthony is that he does not only make the players around him better, but also the Pelicans front office staff.

With a high level of confidence, Anthony knows he has what it takes to have his presence felt once the ball goes up. Catching lobs for gravity defying dunks aren’t’t the only things we can expect from the Pels big man.

Knowing that having a strong mid-range game is very crucial for power forwards, Davis adamantly continued to evolve his shooting touch over the summer. Wanting to reach a level of consistency and accuracy was the main focus for Davis.

With a good head on his shoulders, strong work ethic, desire and drive to get better, AD will be keeping us entertained for a very long time.