Imagine how good Anthony Davis will be when the games actually matter.
The New Orleans Pelicans star was the player of the game in Team USA's 95-78 win over Brazil on Saturday night. The national team is participating in a series of exhibitions in preparation for the 2014 FIBA World Cup. Davis led the U.S. in scoring with 20 points. He also added four blocks, per USA Basketball:
"Anthony played great for us," said Derrick Rose after the game, per Steve Silverman of USAB.com. "And when you see him diving, hustling and throwing himself all over to make a play, that’s really something. I’m so happy for him to contribute like that. It means a lot for this team."
You can see a small sampling of his highlights below.
As NBA Tonight's Cassidy Hubbarth tweeted out, Saturday's showcase only whet the appetites of basketball fans everywhere. The regular season can't get here soon enough so we can watch Davis really grow into a beast:
It's going to be a whole lotta fun watching Anthony Davis' career... Dude is special.— Cassidy Hubbarth (@CassidyHubbarth) August 17, 2014
It's not crazy to call the 21-year-old one of the most exciting players to watch in the NBA. You don't see too many guys nearing 7 feet tall physically able to do the things he can do. On more than one occasion last year, Davis started a fast break for the Pelicans with a block in the paint. He's then one of the first guys down the floor to finish off the break with a thunderous dunk or a quick lay-in.
You can see an example of this from from a 2013-14 game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Davis' repertoire is his mid-range shooting. From his first to second year, he developed a very good mid-range jumper. You can see the evidence of this below, courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.
|At Rim||226-317 (.713)||280-398 (.704)|
|3 to < 10 ft.||54-124 (.435)||85-208 (.409)|
|10 to < 16 ft.||31-83 (.373)||78-181 (.431)|
|16 to < 3-pt.||38-146 (.260)||77-209 (.368)|
|3-pt.||0-6 (.000)||2-9 (.222)|
Usually, when you see a big man expanding his shooting zone and taking more shots from one year to the next, his percentages will only increase slightly if not actually drop. Davis, on the other hand, increased his shooting percentage from 10-to-16 feet by .058 and from 16 feet to the three-point line by .108.
It's hard to believe that anybody doubted this kid when he came out of Kentucky. The term transcendent is used a little too frequently, but he has the potential to be a transcendent big man in the league.
To be fair, how many people foresaw this kind of accelerated improvement offensively? His defense was never really in question. The hope was that Davis would add a little muscle and refine his shooting, but to see it happening this quickly is incredible.
All of this and he doesn't turn 22 until March. Davis isn't even beginning to approach the peak of his powers.
The only road block that could stand in his way is the New Orleans supporting cast. The Pelicans aren't a terrible basketball team, but they lack that one star player who could pair up with Davis and make the franchise a serious contender.
Considering the leap he made in 2013-14, it's scary to think where Davis could be in 2014-15. He may not win an MVP, but few players are better cornerstones for their respective franchises.