Thanks to the picked-over brain of New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams, freakish physical tools that have produced transcendent defensive talent and, yes, even an in-flight Snuggie, superstar sophomore Anthony Davis has made a rather seamless transition to the NBA.
The No. 1 pick in 2012 ranks first in NBA blocks per game (2.9), 12th in scoring (21.6), fourth in player efficiency rating (27.1) and sits tied for eighth in win shares (9.8), via Basketball-Reference.
While the stat sheet paints him as an across-the-board contributor, Davis told ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz he still sees his best work come at the defensive end of the floor.
"Blocking shots. Cleaning up the glass, whatever it is. Changing shots, getting to the ball," Davis said. "Those are probably my best skills right now."
Apparently, those 21.6 points aren't as impressive in Davis' eyes as they are to the rest of the basketball world. That, or he sees enough room for offensive improvement that he's not ready to celebrate his play on that side of the court.
The way ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton (subscription required) sees it, Davis might be right to opt for the latter.
"He has demonstrated the potential to be not just one of the best players in the league but the very best -- and one of the best players ever," Pelton wrote.
So, how exactly has an unknown preps guard literally grown into one of the NBA's most fascinating bigs? Having the mind of Coach Williams at his disposal has certainly been a tremendous boost.
"I definitely pick [Willams’] brain about a lot of things," Davis told Arnovitz. "He provides me with great feedback, and I want to be better. I want to be an elite player someday."
That's assuming, of course, Davis hasn't already crossed that bridge—a terrifying assumption for the 29 teams that don't call the Big Easy home.
As hard as it can be to remember that the single-browed baller is less than a month removed from his 21st birthday, he gives us some not-so-subtle reminders about his age every now and then.
Like admitting to flying around with a Snuggie, for instance.
"I did at one time," Davis told Arnovitz. "The Snuggie is gone."
As for what's replaced that manufactured comfort, that remains something of a mystery. It hasn't been, Davis said, filling his friend list with NBA peers.
"I don't have a best friend" in the league, he told Arnovitz. "I’m not really tight with anybody. I mean, the guys on the team, but I’ve only been in the league for a couple of years. Maybe the guys from Kentucky, but that’s really it."
Then again, making grown men look helpless probably hasn't filled Davis' doorstep with care packages and fruit baskets:
Crashing the NBA's elite ranks isn't supposed to look so easy. If some misguided frustration has manifested as resentment from his peers, that's perhaps understandable.
Luckily, the rest of us don't have to worry about the big man making us look bad. We can simply appreciate this superstar in training who's clearly left his training wheels—and his Snuggie—behind.
Statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and accurate as of March 21, 2014.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!