Anthony Davis Approaching History at Just 20 Years Old

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Anthony Davis Approaching History at Just 20 Years Old
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

Anthony Davis is big time. 

So big time, he deserves to buy himself a celebratory beer or vibrantly colored mixed cocktail, replete with umbrella garnishes. 

Except he can't, because he's not of legal drinking age yet. That's correct, the NBA's newest top-10 superstar cannot pop champagne for a little over a month, which is amazing. Looking at everything he's done and how much progress he's made, Davis resembles a seasoned veteran more than he does a 20-year-old sophomore. 

But that's what he is, a 20-year-old sophomore. 

Aside from ruining any hopes we have of clubbing with him on off nights before March 11, his birthday, there's no downside to him being so young. It's the just the opposite, in fact. It means we have that much more time to watch The Brow play.

And if his first two seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans are any indication, there are reams of records Davis will call his own by the time he hangs it up—some of which he's prepared to shatter right now.

 

Fairy-Tale Production

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Once upon a time, there was a boy of immense height (6'10") and a slender build. His lone eyebrow needed its own comb and his wingspan (7'5.5") its own passport. This boy entered the NBA in 2012, took the floor and despite a few setbacks (injuries), started making history almost immediately.

And he's never looked back.

Davis did, indeed, begin making history from the onset of his career. Battling injuries last season, Davis became the youngest player in NBA history to total at least 800 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks in fewer than 65 games. 

At only 19, he put himself in the record books. The second-youngest player to accomplish this same feat was Tim Duncan in 1998-99, when he was 22. 

If that's what Davis was able to accomplish in limited action, hampered by injuries, imagine what he could do at full strength. Or just look at this season.

Though he's currently nursing a dislocated left index finger, Davis' 20.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game put him on pace to total roughly 1,510 points, 770 rebounds and 244 blocks. Assuming he hits the benchmarks of 1,500, 750 and 225, respectively, he will join Shaquille O'Neal as the youngest player in NBA history to amass such totals in a single season.

Getty Images/Getty Images
Shaq, meet The Brow.

Per the NBA's statistical database, he could attach himself to Shaq in other ways, too:

Better still, his extrapolated production, when added to last season's totals, means he has the opportunity to join Alonzo Mourning as the only other player to tally 2,300 points, 1,200 rebounds and 350 blocks in fewer than 140 games.

That could admittedly be considered nothing next to what he's already done. Davis just recently became the quickest and youngest player to 1,600 points, 900 rebounds, 230 blocks and 130 steals, doing so in 101 games.

To put that in perspective, it took Kevin Garnett—a Hall of Fame lock—157 games to do the same thing; it took superstar center Dwight Howard 164 games as well. 

The ease and volume in which Davis can do just about everything is unprecedented. Less than two years into his career, he's tracking toward making history.

Less than two years into his career, he's already made history.

 

Advanced Analytics Don't Lie

David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

Crowded box scores can be empty meaning.

New Orleans isn't a good team. Not when Jrue Holiday is sidelined by injury and Tyreke Evans is struggling to be productive. At 19-26, the Pelicans are six games outside the Western Conference's playoff picture, headed for a third straight lottery.

Could Davis' per-game numbers and overall totals be coming courtesy of a terrible team feeding a good player? Or is it actually a sign of historical greatness?

Take the latter.

Advanced stats allow us to see if a player is having a profound impact on his team and the game, or if he's just filling up the box score with relatively meaningless stats. Nothing about Davis' output is meaningless.

The lanky big man is posting a 26.8 PER, which ranks fourth, along with Kevin Love, among all qualified players. But that's not what's important. Not here.

Infogr.am.

Davis' 26.8 PER also puts him on pace to set the all-time record for players under 21, beating out LeBron James' current mark of 25.7 by a comfortable margin.

At this rate, Davis will become just the second qualified player under 21 in NBA history to post an offensive rating of least 118 and defensive rating of 103 or better as well. Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs duplicated this feat during the 2011-12 lockout-truncated season.

More impressively, Davis is about to shatter the win shares per 48 minutes record for players under 21.

Infogr.am.

James currently holds the title, having accumulated .203 win shares per 48 minutes during the 2004-05 crusade, back when he was also a sophomore. Davis is at .214 more than halfway through this season, giving him a real opportunity to unseat the King.

There's a certain beauty to this one. Were the Pellies a dominant faction, playing the Milwaukee Bucks rip-rolling opponents nightly, you could understand Davis owning such a record. But the Pellies aren't good. Again, they're bad, only increasing the significance of Davis' record-breaking pace here.

 

Growing Up Brow

Glenn James/Getty Images

There's no simple way to explain why Davis, a boy-looking Goliath among men, is doing what he's doing.

We've heard everything before. Everything.

It's the athleticism. The versatility. The size. The case of Wheaties he devours each morning.

Really, it's everything. And more. 

"I'm just trying to get better each and every day,'' Davis said after going for 30 points and eight blocks in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, via The Times Picayune's John Reid. 

Having the physical gifts and tools to dominate at record-setting, history-making paces only means so much. Players must know how to use them and want to improve upon them.

Young, diligent and yes, freakishly tall and athletic, Davis has everything teams look for in a franchise cornerstone, dominant superstar and record-crushing phenom.

 

*Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted.

 

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