Anthony Davis is playing the best basketball of his young career. In just his second season in the NBA, the 20-year-old power forward has propelled himself into the conversation as one of the league’s elite big men. Davis is averaging 20.5 points and 10.5 rebounds through 40 games this season, significantly improving on his numbers from his rookie campaign.
The progress and success of the New Orleans Pelicans power forward this season has stemmed from the team’s offense focusing around Davis more than it previously did, as well as his willingness to maneuver deep into the paint for high percentage shots, using his 7’5″ wingspan to his advantage.
Davis’s usage percentage after 40 games last season was 21.4 percent, while his squad compiled 16 wins to 24 losses. Yet, the former Kentucky star is writing a different narrative this season. His usage percentage has risen to 24.5 percent, while the Pelicans’ wins have climbed as well.
Due to his higher usage percentage, Davis is shooting at more of a frequent rate. Through 40 games last season, Davis took 211 shots from within 5 feet of the basket and 52 from between 5-9 feet. After 40 contests in his sophomore season, Davis has taken 312 shots from within 5 feet and 85 from between 5-9 feet.
Despite a slightly lower shooting percentage within those ranges, the 2012 No. 1 overall pick is also shooting more mid-range shots – and he’s knocking them down. Last season at this time, he had gone just 12-of-37 (32.4 percent) from between 10-14 feet while shooting 24-of-75 (30 percent) from the distance of 15-19 feet. At this point in the season, Davis has greatly improved.
He is shooting 40 percent from between 10-14 feet and 43.9 percent from between 15-19 feet, having gone 24-of-60 and 54-of-123, respectively.
Anthony Davis’s shot chart, 15-19ft: 10/31/12 – 2/13/13
Anthony Davis’s shot chart, 15-19ft: 10/30/13 – 2/5/14
The evolution of Davis, however, is not just one-dimensional.
With his gifted height combined with his impressive wingspan, Davis has turned himself into one of the league’s top defenders. He leads the NBA in blocks per game, averaging 3.36 of them. He also averages 4.48 blocks per 48 minutes, which leads the league.
Davis has begun to frequently fill up the stat sheets. In a 100-92 victory against the Orlando Magic on January 26, he tallied 22 points, grabbed down 19 boards and swatted 7 shots. Below are the highlights:
Just two days later, the Pelicans defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game in which Davis dropped 30 points, recorded 8 blocks and 7 rebounds. Below are the highlights:
He can shoot. He can rebound. He can block shots and he can defend. Davis also possesses a great personality and is a quality teammate to have in the locker room. While he certainly still has work to do, he appears as the full package.
Though Anthony Davis was still a teenager less than one year ago, the man-child is emerging as a full-fledged NBA superstar before our very own eyes. The torch has yet to be passed to him, but someday soon – sooner than we may think – the league will be Davis’s for the taking.