Is Anthony Davis Part of the Problem?

Anthony Davis is struggling to put his team on his back. While he is not the entire source of blame for New Orleans 0-6 start, shouldn’t a superstar like Davis be able to prevent his team from starting the season with six consecutive losses? He puts the blame on injuries which is by no means a desperate excuse; the Pelicans are dealing with long-term injuries to Tyreke Evans, Norris Cole, Quincy Pondexter, and Kendrick Perkins, as well as day-to-day injuries to Omer Asik and Jrue Holiday.

New Orleans opened the season against the defending champs which was not pretty for the Pelicans. It has not gotten better as they have yet to overcome their opponent and Davis has yet to consistently play like his old self. His numbers appear impressive as he is putting up another 20-and-10 season. However, he is shooting a career low 46% and is committing nearly twice as many turnovers as his previous career high.

An immense proportion of the offensive load is being placed on Davis right now which could be causing his inefficiency. He is taking tougher shots than ever simply because teams know that the Pelicans have nowhere else to go. Davis is one of the most talented players in the league, but he may not be equipped to handle so many isolation sets while teams frequently send double-teams his way.

Davis’ squad was thought by many to be a lock for the postseason simply because the roster has the man with the unibrow. Every game matters in the Western Conference, however, and a winless streak will put the Pelicans in an immediate hole behind their competition. They have shown no signs that they will improve prior to getting healthy which is concerning because key players such as Tyreke Evans will be out for at least another month.

It was widely assumed that Davis could pick up most of the slack that his injured teammates left on the court but he has shown in the early going that this may not be the case. This puts New Orleans’ playoff chances in major jeopardy as the 8th seed in the West will certainly have to be an over .500 team. 

In NBA.com’s GM survey, 86.2% of General Managers said they would want to start a franchise with Davis. 25% also predicted that Davis would take home the 2015-16 MVP. However, according to history, the MVP usually comes from a championship contender. Davis is still only 22 years old, and will undoubtedly keep getting better but he needs to show us more before he will warrant MVP consideration. He will need to be able to consistently compete with teams such as the Golden State Warriors and players such as Steph Curry which he has not yet shown that he can do.

In the 2014-15 postseason, the Pelicans were swept by Golden State, and it has been more of the same this year. In two games against the Warriors this season, New Orleans has allowed an average of 122.5 points showing that they are the same team that blew a 20-point lead in game 3 of last year’s playoff series.

It must be a concern in New Orleans that Anthony Davis will become the new Chris Paul. That he will become one of the best regular season players in the league by continuing to put up huge numbers. That he will ultimately lead his team to consistent playoff births but will never make it out of the second round. Similar to what Paul had in New Orleans, Davis has a decent supporting cast that can help the team rise to above .500 when healthy. But until the roster is bolstered and Davis gets serviceable sidekicks, this team likely will not be a contender.

Health can always be cited as a reason for underachievement. But eventually, when there is a star like Davis in the picture something needs to change if there is no success. This is why if the Pelicans struggle to compete this season, they could be in for a mini-rebuild to attempt to find the right pieces to surround their superstar with.

The future is bright in New Orleans but the present is hampered by the fact that Anthony Davis will struggle to singlehandedly lead this team past the first round, let alone a playoff birth.

Regardless, “The Brow” will not go away any time soon. Even if his team struggles, he has the potential to be the most dominant individual player in the league. He never stops working on his game as he is now a power forward that can bully defenders down low, as well as play on the perimeter. There is no doubt that Davis could eventually be an MVP candidate and that his teams could make deep playoff runs. But given the circumstances this year, prepare yourself for a playoff picture and an MVP race without Anthony Davis.

photo via llananba