The New Orleans Pelicans were among the losers of Tuesday’s draft lottery. After failing to gain a top-five pick, the Pelicans sent the 10th selection of this year’s draft to the Phildelphia 76ers as part of last summer’s trade for Jrue Holiday. Despite increasingly disappointing early returns of that deal, the presence of burgeoning superstar Anthony Davis ensures that the future is still bright in the Bayou.
The highlight reel above – uploaded to YouTube by user ktowntigerv3 – is a perfect encapsulation of Davis’ breakout sophomore campaign. The 21 year old averaged 20.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, and a league-leading 2.8 blocks per game this season en route to his first All-Star birth. Perhaps more impressively, Davis’ 26.5 player efficiency rating ranked fourth-best in the NBA, and he finished eighth in voting for Defensive Player of the Year.
But even such statistics and postseason recognition don’t do his 2013-2014 performance justice. Davis has been an eye-opening blend of length and athleticism since he was a high-school senior in Chicago. And though his lone year at the University of Kentucky and rookie season in the NBA were undoubtedly successful – the Wildcats won the 2012 NCAA Championship and Davis was named the to the 2013 All-Rookie First Team – he nevertheless failed to show the offensive consistency that had so many calling him a potential franchise player once his prep days came to a close.
That all changed in 2013-2014. The Pterodactyl-esque lob- and follow-dunks were still a major part of Davis’ game; the video makes that abundantly clear. Still, there was growing craft and nuance in his offensive repertoire that he only flashed in years prior. According to NBA.com, Davis shot a solid 40.1 percent from mid-range as a sophomore, up from a dismal mark of 29.1 in 2012-2013. Even more encouraging was his development as an isolation scorer: Davis was assisted on 66.9 percent of his field goals this season, almost 10 percent fewer than he was as a rookie. And of course, he continued making otherworldly two-way plays like this:
Davis, basically, realized his destiny as basketball’s rarest combination of athleticism, size, and skill in 2013-2014, reaching statistical thresholds reserved for the game’s all-time greats in the process. And he did it all at the tender age of 21 years old.
The Pelicans didn’t get lucky at Tuesday’s draft lottery, but in the long run it may not matter. With a transcendent player like Davis already in tow, good fortune is bound to come their way eventually.
(GIF via SBNation)
How good do you think Anthony Davis will be?
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