Anthony Davis is that dude and everybody knows it. He’s the future of the NBA and he proved it on Wednesday night in the Pelicans’ first game of the season, a 107-102 loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Davis opened 2016-17 on some Terminator X, Back To The Future-type flow: 50 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, seven steals and four blocks was the Buju Banton wicked statline.
No one in NBA history had recorded 45 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and five steals in the same game before this, per Elias Sports.
According to cbssports.com, “the most recent performance that even resembles this came from Vince Carter 15 years ago -- as a member of the Toronto Raptors, he recorded 42 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, five steals and two blocks in 51 minutes. Davis put up his numbers in a regulation game, needing just 41 minutes of playing time.”
As if we didn’t already know this kid was shot out of a Hall of Fame space ship, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and MJ are the only other immortals to drop 50 in a season-opener.
He’s the prototypical stats sheet stuffer and a 6-10, 253-pound problem for any opposing defense.
As multidimensional as his game is, however, everything with Davis has two sides. He’s one of the NBA’s most dominating positive forces and a true example of the highly-skilled assassins that comprise NBA rosters. He is the most unique player in the game, able to flex an array of skills that can’t be duplicated by anyone -- not even King James in some aspects.
On the flip side, he’s never played a full NBA season since being drafted out of Kentucky due to injuries.
A stress reaction caused him to miss 11 games in his rookie season of 2012-13. A non-displaced fracture in his left hand taking an Amar’e Stoudemire charge cost him several games in the 2013-14 season. A shoulder injury during the 2014-15 season, after falling from the rim on an alley-oop, caused him to withdraw from the 2015 NBA All-Star Game and miss games in February and March.
The writing was on the wall to bounce at that point, but instead, he channeled his inner Kevin Garnett and signed a five-year, $145 million contract extension with the Pelicans, thus marrying himself to a situation that is almost resigned to failure by remaining in a Western Conference that is loaded with Super Teams and perennial all-stars.
(Photo Credit: thesportsfanjournal.com)
Last season, Davis and the Pelicans had high hopes, but he suffered through a 2015-16 season plagued by injuries which led to his promising team -- that won 45 games in 2015 and became a popular pick to shock out of the West -- slumping to 30-52.
Davis' inability to stay healthy also wound up knocking him off the gold-medal-winning U.S. squad at the 2016 Summer Olympics. In this world of quick-paced news and daily changing narratives, Davis became a forgotten man as the talent-laden NBA Finals stole the spotlight and then Olympic glory followed with him watching from home.
The highlight of his season was when he became the youngest player in NBA history to score 59 points in a game, and the second youngest (behind Bob McAdoo) to record 50 points and 20 rebounds in a game.
Dope stats, but individual based. It's not his fault. He's far from selfish and he's capable of distributing the rock.
The problem is, AD has never been able to really shine on the playoff stage because his team is, for lack of better words, weak as hell. Against Denver, he made 17 of his 34 shots from the field. The rest of his team shot a dismal 21-of-58.
I wrote a piece in 2014, entitled Anthony Davis Is Playing Hollywood Horse With Himself. I basically pontificated about how dope Davis was, how sorry his team and market was and how he’d never re-sign with New Orleans (If he knew what was best for him) because his destiny was with a bigger, winning franchise who could attract other stars to come play with him.
“Too bad Davis plays for the Pelicans. I mean, even a second-tier market team would get him more prime time shine. Honestly, part of Davis’ allure and popularity is the fact that unless you have the NBA cable package or live in New Orleans, you’re lying if you say you see more than two Pelicans games a season. You get what we all get, a steady dose of cable network highlights. It won’t be like this for long. Two years from now the NBA will be on Davis overload. If his desire continues to match his talent—and his confidence—we may have found King James’ successor already.”
(Photo Credit: NOLA.com)
I was wrong about him not re-signing. Too bad for Davis.
His stats are prime time, but he won’t be fairly recognized until he gets with a serious band of ballers and challenges the game’s greatest teams to a battle for the NBA's most prestigious accolade.
Until then we have to hope he stays healthy and the next four years fly by quickly for “The Brow Mound of Rebound” because his presence, talent, unique ability and impact is missed on the grand stage and lost on a team that is going nowhere fast.