Although Anthony Davis is a very talented player, few people would’ve called in the league’s best before the 2014-15 NBA season began. But now, one month into the season, we need only look at Davis’ numbers to throw him in the discussion that begins with LeBron, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and James Harden.
Considering player efficiency rating alone (PER), which measures per-minute performance, Davis is unquestionably the best – in fact, it’s not even close! Through 13 games, the New Orleans Pelicans forward has a 34.52 PER, compared to Dallas’ Brandan Wright, who ranks second with a 29.89 PER.
Of course, Wright isn’t exactly in the discussion for the top NBA player, so let’s take a look at how the aforementioned greats rank in this category:
3. Stephen Curry – 28.84 PER
5. Chris Paul – 27.70 PER
8. LeBron James – 25.12 PER
Okay, so we’ve established that nobody is better than Davis when it comes to making the most out of minutes. But as Wright shows, even unheralded players can rank high here, so let’s look at pure numbers.
In this category, what Davis is doing might be even more remarkable. He’s averaging 25.4 PPG (2nd in NBA), 11.2 rebounds (7th), 2.08 steals (4th), 3.38 blocks (1st) and shooting 56.5% from the field. As ESPN’s Marc Stein tweeted, if Davis can keep this up, he’ll join some pretty outstanding players:
Stein – If Anthony Davis can average 25/10/3.5 for the season, he’ll join Kareem, The Admiral, Hakeem The Dream & Patrick Ewing in an exclusive club
When the unibrow-sporting, Kentucky product came into the league, many looked at him as an ultra-talented shot blocker who was raw in other areas. Moreover, at 6’10”, 220 pounds, it was assumed that Davis would need far more mass to be effective. Well he’s put on the muscle, but his skills were already shining in his first two years. Now that Davis has begun his third NBA campaign, he’s become a superstar…at least in terms of numbers and respect around the league anyways.
What’s tough for Davis is that he plays in the crowded Western Conference on an average team. New Orleans stands at 7-6 right now, which ranks them 10th out of 15 teams in the West. As has been the case over the past few years, simply having a winning record isn’t good enough to make the Western Conference playoffs. And as long as the Pelicans stay out of the postseason picture, Davis’ talents will largely go unnoticed.
So while he’s the best player in terms of all-around numbers, the 21-year-old still needs to produce wins in order to be mentioned with the LeBron’s, Paul’s and Harden’s of the league.
This is definitely the best chance that Davis has had to win in his short career. New Orleans features a strong lineup that includes PG Jrue Holiday, SG Eric Gordon, forwards Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson, and C Omar Asik. So it’s not like they are short on talent. However, this is also a young team without anybody who’s been in serious playoff battles. So as the Pelicans improve, Davis’ legend will grow.