Why Anthony Davis Will Remind the NBA He's the Next Box Office Superstar
Get ready to hear the name Anthony Davis shouted out and tweeted millions of time, probably without a single lowercase letter.
Prepare yourself for the inevitable onslaught of highlight after highlight featuring a unibrow during the NBA's 2013-14 campaign.
Brace yourself for Davis asserting himself as the next box-office superstar as he competes for an All-Star spot and helps carry the New Orleans Pelicans into the playoffs. He won't be content to suit up just 82 times during his second professional season.
The Davis hype train has already started speeding up, but it's not too late to grab a seat before it's fully departed. And you'll want to, as everything points toward this particular locomotive hurtling down the tracks in 2013-14.
If there were such a thing as a preseason MVP trophy, then Derrick Rose and Davis would currently be fighting over it after leading their teams to the top records in their respective conferences. New Orleans would have lost far more than just a single game without the services of this young big man.
Davis was statistically dominant. There's no need to sell him short there, as "dominance" is definitely applicable in this situation.
Over the course of eight games, Davis averaged 19.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.0 blocks. And he did that while playing just over 27 minutes per game. If you prorate the numbers to 36 minutes, those averages are now 22.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 2.4 steals and 4.8 blocks.
And it gets better, as Davis' percentages were just superb. He shot 55.2 percent from the field and 84.3 percent from the charity stripe.
Now obviously these numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt because we're talking about the preseason. But while playing against a lowered level of competition, Davis passed every eye test possible.
He was showing off new post moves, drilling mid-range jumpers, putting the ball on the floor without hesitation, bodying up against bigger players in the post (even Dwight Howard during the preseason opener) and rotating properly. Everything—other than his proclivity for fouling—looked better, and that's a great sign after an underrated rookie campaign.
Davis' first season out of Kentucky was overshadowed by Damian Lillard's stellar offensive exploits, and his ability to make a significant impact was slightly hindered by the time he spent in street clothes. But when The Unibrow played, he excelled.
And yet, take a look at how much better those per-36-minute numbers from the preseason are when compared to his rookie season:
Sure, the rebounds were down, but that's the only knock. His defensive stats were much improved, as were the percentages.
Get excited for a stat-stuffing campaign from Davis.
And then some.
No More Pizza
I hope you don't think I'm kidding.
Pizza is actually going to have a significant effect on Davis' ability to become a superstar.
According to Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans.com, the lanky big man is a noted lover of the delicious food, and it comprised a large part of his diet throughout the rookie season. Davis had to bulk up, and the best way for him to do so was just to consume a lot of calories.
Speaking to Eichenhofer, New Orleans assistant coach Carlos Daniel had the following to say about his star player's diet:
Last year was a heavy pizza diet because he was a 19-year-old kid. But by eating better, it will be good for his endurance, recovery and stamina. We want to make sure he’s getting the proper proteins and carbohydrates, so that whatever he uses on a daily basis, we’re putting it back into his system. We want him to get extra calories—but not bad calories—so that he can efficiently use them
That's one good sign, but so too is what the other assistant had to say. Keith Hanson told Eichenhofer that “He’s gained a lot of strength. He’s able to absorb contact and go through it, whereas before he’d shy away from contact or get bumped off of the spot he wanted.”
There was a noticeable difference in the preseason, and that should carry over into the regular season as he continues to fill out his frame. Just looking at that picture of Davis up above (or really, any image in this article), you can see that his arms are already more chiseled and muscular, and the same applies to the rest of his frame.
Davis is more set to handle the wear and tear that goes hand in hand with an NBA season. And that bodes well for his ability to produce highlights on a regular basis.
There's no doubt that Davis is already a SportsCenter staple. He doesn't have the flashy dribbles, but as you can see from this reel of great plays, he's got everything else.
The big blocks. The monstrous slam dunks. The tremendous alley-oops.
They're all there, and that's not going to change. We know that Davis will be a never-ending source of highlights. That's been abundantly clear ever since he showed off his immense athleticism to the world while still playing under John Calipari for the Kentucky Wildcats.
But the rest of his game is going to get better, which leads to more playing time and thus more action on the highlight reels. Plus, an expanded offensive arsenal would only make it easier for him to get to the rim and finish plays.
As mentioned earlier, Davis showed off a whole new set of moves during the preseason.
That's something that he couldn't do during his rookie season. Putting the ball on the floor from the perimeter and hitting a floater is something you'd expect to see from a diminutive guard, not a man capable of lining up at center without giving up any size.
So too are some of the plays that you can see in this next video.
Against the Dallas Mavericks, Davis floated in another shot after facing up against Samuel Dalembert (0:20), drove past Brandan Wright from outside the three-point arc (0:48), went right by Bernard James after starting in the corner (1:23) and generally made the paint his home.
Seriously, the number of dunks and easy finishes is ridiculous, and it's made possible by more than just the porosity of the Dallas defense. Davis is already showing off quite a bit of court awareness, and that will only improve as he continues to gain experience at the sport's highest level.
Remember, Davis is only 20 years old and won't be able to legally consume alcoholic beverages until the middle of March.
Will Davis make the All-Star team in 2013-14?
What he put on display throughout the preseason was a more well-rounded game than anything we've seen from the young big man, and he's only going to continue developing throughout his second professional season.
Davis was already one of the NBA's League Pass favorites when he was healthy as a rookie. But now's where I've got to hand things off to Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
After all, you ain't seen nothing yet.
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