Anthony Davis is certainly one of the NBA’s most talented young players. The Pelicans’ big man has rapidly developed his all-around game over the past few seasons and posses out of this world shot blocking abilities. While Davis definitely has the potential to become a true superstar in this league, to look at where he will be in the future, you need to take a look at his past.
Throughout much of his time in high school at the Perspectives Charter School on the South Side of Chicago, Davis was a lightly recruited point guard. At the end of his freshman season he was only 6 feet tall! Over the next 3 seasons Davis would grow to his current height for 6’10, as he become the nation’s top high school basketball prospect.
The fact that Davis has only been playing with his current frame for only about 3 years now is incredible being as he has already transformed himself into a top 5 power forward in the NBA. In that short period of time, he has developed a low-post game, honed his rebounding skills, became an elite defender and shot blocker, and he has even developed a decent midrange shot all while still possessing some of those intangibles that point guards bring to the table.
The reason why I mentioned Davis’ past is because he has improved his game so much in that short period of time, that his potential is through the roof. If Davis is able to bulk up a bit more (which he has already done very well since his 1-year stint at Kentucky) as well as improve on the other areas of his game, there is no telling how great of a player he can be. We might even be talking about him as a top 5 player in the entire association.
However, there are some reasons for concern when talking about Anthony Davis’ future. The main reason is injury troubles. Through his first one and a half seasons in the NBA, Davis has already missed a combined 26 games due to various injuries (including a fractured ankle, fractured left hand, and several concussions). While this number isn’t an astonishing number, it is a little bit alarming when you are talking about a guy that is supposed to be the face off his franchise for the foreseeable future.
To compare those numbers to those of other superstars, LeBron has only missed 39 games in his ten and a half years and Kevin Durant has only missed 16 games in six and a half years. While LeBron an KD have proven to be incredibly durable in their careers, Davis’ numbers in the missed games department should not be that high already. If he does not bulk up more and if he doesn’t figure out how to play hard while making sure to protect his body, he may be in for some injury troubles down the road. This is something neither he nor the Pelicans can afford to let happen if they want Anthony Davis to reach his true potential.
The other concern with the Pelicans big man has to do with his franchise. You’d have to wonder if he will be able to stay motivated and put in the maximum amount of work that it takes to become a superstar if he is stuck playing on a mediocre team for a long time. While New Orleans made some intriguing offseason acquisitions that showed promise, a combination of injuries and inconsistencies have derailed them and currently has the Pelicans sitting in 12th place in the Western Conference.
Going forward, there will be questions about whether Jrue Holiday is the right guy to be playing point on this team, where Tyreke Evans fits on this team, and in general if there is enough talent around Anthony Davis for this team to become competitive. We’ve seen it happen time and time again with elite talents stuck on bad or average teams. They become complacent, and just think about getting out of the situation, and in turn they do not put as much effort into their game as they need to. Guys like Vince Carter (2004 in Toronto), Deron Williams (2011-2012 in New Jersey), and now Kyrie Irving seem to have done this.
I’m not saying Anthony Davis is going to start complaining about things and losing that motor that has fueled him thus far just because the Pelicans continue to struggle. I’m merely suggesting that it has happened with guys in the past, so it is possible that it could happen in the future. Once Holiday, Ryan Anderson, and others get healthy and finally have a chance to play together maybe this team can take that next step and at least make the playoffs. However, if it doesn’t happen within the next year or two, this may negatively impact Anthony Davis’ game and his development as a basketball player.
All and all I am really impressed with what Davis has done in the NBA thus far. This season he leads the league in blocks and is positioned in the top 20 in the league in 3 other major categories. He is 18th in field goal percentage, 17th in points per game, and 13th in rebounds per game. He has proven to be a top 5 power forward and a consistent stat sheet stuffer. Now he just needs to keep putting in the work to take his game to that superstar level. As long as Anthony Davis can stay healthy and the Pelicans’ front office can put the necessary talent around him, there is no reason that he can’t become a top 5 player in the NBA.