Last season, New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis was sidelined for 21 games because of a mix of shoulder and knee problems. John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Davis will be at 100 percent by the start of the season and won’t have any restrictions on minutes.
The former first overall pick has been tasked with turning around the franchise that drafted him, and the 23-year-old has quickly risen into MVP conversation and is, arguably, a top-five player when healthy–the caveat being “when healthy.”
Since entering the league in 2012, Davis has missed decent-sized chunks of each season and has suited up for 260 out a possible 328 games. He’s never played more than 68 games in a season, but has played in 79 percent of his total contests and the injury situation could be way worse; it’s not his fault that he’s hurt all the time, either. Sometimes it’s just bad luck.
Regardless, the Brow is a special breed of player who can impact every aspect of the game. His calling card coming out of Kentucky was exuberant athleticism and ridiculous length that made him a shot blocking machine and intimidating interior presence–despite being rail thin. He’s still one of the best rim protectors in the NBA and was the best until the emergence of Hassan Whiteside. Davis’ offensive game has evolved drastically also, and that was the part of his game that propelled him into superstar status.
He’s bulked up and added a refined post game. But, with the evolution of the league, Davis has added a mid-range–sometimes three-point–jumper to his arsenal and is now a legitimate threat out of the pick-and-pop or pick-and-roll.
With Davis being healthy to start the year, and New Orleans having some issues with their roster, coach Alvin Gentry will need the young superstar to dominate. Jrue Holiday won’t be around to start the season because of family reasons, the situation with Tyreke Evans is still up in the air, and the rest of the roster doesn’t have the firepower to carry the team for an extended period of time.
Fortunately, for Davis, his cohorts are respectable enough to warrant attention. A.D will still have a lot of the defense’s focus on him, but he’s a smart enough player to take what his opponent is giving him and to make the right play.
Plus, he’s a matchup nightmare for whoever attempts to guard him.
Back in 2014-15, when the Pelicans went 45-37 and made the playoffs, Davis had his best year as a pro and averaged 24.4 points on 53.5 percent shooting, 10.2 rebounds, and a league-leading 2.9 blocks. That New Orleans squad was formidable despite being riddled with injuries, and Davis is going to have to be better than what he was two years ago to help make this team relevant.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference
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