Anthony Davis, Superstar

Last season, Anthony Davis posted a Player Efficiency Rating of 30.89. Only three players in NBA history have posted a higher PER: Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, and LeBron James.

Besides leading the league with a PER of 30.89, Anthony Davis was a statistical marvel last season. Davis led the league in blocks, blocks per game, and field goals made inside the three point line. His 24.4 PPG last season was good for fourth in the league. He was an All-Star and All-NBA first team. He can do it all. He can score at will both inside and outside of the paint as well as rack up blocks on the defensive side. He has established himself as one of the best power forwards in the NBA. Shaquille O’Neal has noticed.

“He’s (Davis) probably the best at that position. He can run, rebound, and dominate. He’s going to do his thing this year.” O’Neal wants his 15-year-old son, Shareef, to develop his game by watching Anthony Davis.

It is scary to imagine what Davis, who is only 22, will be doing in the coming season(s) when he has reached his full potential. Working hard every season to get better, he has improved statistically in each of his three years with New Orleans.

  • 2012-13: 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks
  • 2013-14: 20.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.8 blocks
  • 2014-15: 24.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.9 blocks

After signing a max five-year contract worth $145 million in July with the Pelicans, Davis has increased his weight from 220 to 253 pounds as he adopted a strenuous weight-lifting and conditioning regimen in Los Angeles to make him stronger and help him avoid injury. He has never played an 82 game schedule.

  • 2012-13: 64 games
  • 2013-14: 67 games
  • 2014-15: 68 games

The statistics that Anthony Davis have compiled already are exceptional for a player with only three seasons in the league, but that is not what is important to Davis. Anthony Davis wants to win, something he is very familiar with, having won a college championship at Kentucky and also gold medals at the Olympics and FIBA World Cup.

The New Orleans Pelicans snuck into the playoffs last season on the final day of the regular season but were swept by the Warriors in the opening round. Down 2-0 in the series, the Pelicans, at home, built a 16 point lead but in the fourth quarter were stunned when the Warriors, because of the efforts of Draymond Green and Steph Curry, mounted a ferocious comeback. The Pelicans and Anthony Davis, all of a sudden, looked like the very young team they are. The next game was pretty much mailed in for a series sweep. It was a devastating exit for the Pelicans but in this league you have to learn how to win, how to lead when you are ahead and how to have a killer instinct.

The Pelicans believe they can return to the same level come November. Just by having Anthony Davis on the floor, the Pelicans are capable of winning in the playoffs. In the statistical category of win shares per 48 minutes (an estimate number of wins contributed by a player per 48 minutes), Anthony Davis was second in the league, right behind Stephen Curry.

The Pelicans are a team that believes in the pieces they currently have. New Orleans GM Dell Demps did not make many offseason moves, with the exception of signing a new head coach (Alvin Gentry). By switching to a new system under head coach Alvin Gentry, the Pelicans are expecting an even better season than last year’s record of 45-37, which was only 2 wins away from the franchise record. If other key players such as Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday stay healthy, the Pelicans could possibly be a team that makes a deep playoff run.

Winning will define Anthony Davis’ legacy. Will he end up as a champion like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant? Or will he end up being a player that could never find his way to the NBA Finals but was still a great player?

The Pelicans are Anthony Davis’ team. He has completely changed the complexity of the New Orleans Pelicans into a winning organization with a bright future and a attractive destination other NBA players are going to want to come to. Davis is aware of what it takes to be the best player in the league and how to leave his mark in the NBA history books.

It simply comes down to winning.

photo via Wikimedia.org