Coming out of Kentucky, some worried that Anthony Davis would be too thin to survive at the power forward position in the NBA. Well, after averaging 20.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks, it’s time to put that theory to bed.
But looking at the New Orleans Pelicans’ roster, they lack a true center. Could the former No. 1 overall selection handle a move to center?
The Pelicans currently have Jason Smith and Alexis Ajinca manning the center spot. While they can be quality role players to some capacity, you won’t make it far in the Western Conference playoffs with them seeing serious minutes.
Looking at Davis’ stats when he played teams with elite centers, he flourished. He put up 29 points and 10 rebounds on Mar. 12 against the Memphis Grizzlies (Marc Gasol). He dropped 22 points and eight rebounds against the Sacramento Kings on Mar. 31 (DeMarcus Cousins). He added 26 points and 11 rebounds on Feb. 21 against the Los Angeles Clippers (DeAndre Jordan). While Davis may not have been playing these guys face-to-face, he would still have to fight against them for the rebounds and face them in the post at some point to score. Basically, Davis won’t be overwhelmed playing at the center spot. Let’s not forget he’s 6’10″, so size isn’t the issue. Davis is an elite shot blocker and bringing those skills further into the paint could raise those averages.
Moving Davis to center would not only fill that hole, but it would allow 6’10″ Ryan Anderson to play his natural position of power forward. Anderson, who was limited to 22 games in 2013-14 due to injury, averaged 19.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting three-pointers at an impressive .409 clip. While Anderson may not play the role of a “true power forward,” his scoring ability can’t be denied. Having him and Davis next to each other could be a destructive inside-outside offensive duo.
New Orleans was 18th in the league in scoring at 99.7 points per game, so having two players in their lineup who both averaged over 19 points last year would theoretically raise their scoring average.
Now, with Anderson at power forward and Davis at center, Tyreke Evans can play at the small forward spot. Yes, it’s been said many times in the past that Evans is best suited to play one of the guard spots, but he won’t find much playing time there behind Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon. Tyreke quietly put together a nice season in 2013-14, averaging 14.5 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game. At 6’6″, he may be slightly undersized at the small forward position, but he showed himself to be an impressive scorer when given the minutes this season.
With all of these moves accounted for, New Orleans’ 2014-15 lineup (barring any trades) could look like this:
PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Eric Gordon
SF: Tyreke Evans
PF: Ryan Anderson
C: Anthony Davis
This won’t solve New Orleans’ bench woes, but it gives them a high-scoring, fast-paced starting lineup. Their bench can be addressed in free agency this summer, if they so choose. A dominant center is needed to survive in the Western Conference, and Anthony Davis is simply their best option.
Shawn McFarland covers the New Orleans Pelicans for HoopsHabit.com