When the then-New Orleans Hornets took Kentucky star Anthony Davis with the first overall pick in 2012, the thinking was that the franchise had landed a game-changer, a guy who could potentially be the face of the franchise for the next decade.
Then he went out and had a solid—not spectacular—rookie season. Limited by injuries to just 64 games, Davis averaged 13.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 1.2 steals and one assist per game in 28.8 minutes, shooting 51.6 percent from the floor.
His player efficiency rating was a solidly above-average 21.7, the highest in the league among rookies who averaged at least 20 minutes per game. Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard of the Trail Blazers had a 16.4 PER by comparison, third among rookies with 20 or more minutes a game (Andre Drummond of Detroit was second at 21.6).
Fast forward a season, though, and Anthony Davis has emerged as the emerging superstar in the NBA. Playing with a Pelicans team that is improved (New Orleans has already matched last season’s win total of 27 with 16 games to play), Davis is leading the NBA in blocked shots per game at 2.9 and was selected for his first All-Star Game.
How much has he improved? His playing time is up to 35.9 minutes per game (he did miss eight games with a broken bone in his hand in December), an increase of 7.1 minutes a night. His scoring is up almost eight points a game, to 21.4, he’s averaging 10.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals and is shooting 52.7 percent of his shots.
His PER of 27.1 is fourth-best in the NBA … not just among second-year players or guys whose first names end with “y.” No, he’s fourth in the league, behind only Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kevin Love and ahead of luminaries such as Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul George. (And, by the way, he leads NBA players whose first names end with “y,” just for the record.)
His 40-point, 21-rebound game in the Pelicans’ 121-120 overtime win over the Celtics was the first 40-20 game in franchise history. The closest anyone had come to it was Alonzo Mourning, who had a 36-point, 22-rebound game for the then-Charlotte Hornets against Detroit on April 16, 1993.
So how good is Davis going to be? Good luck with that. Perhaps Grantland’s Zach Lowe put it best:
I’m not sure I can fathom what peak Anthony Davis is going to look like.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) March 17, 2014
As always, the players selected for the NBA Best of the Week must play at least 25 minutes a game in more than half of their team’s games (rookies must average 20 minutes a game to be selected).
All statistical information from NBA.com/Stats.