Anthony Davis is a force of nature. This is a widely known and accepted fact, one that’s very easily verified if you watch even five minutes of any given Pelicans game. Yet while numbers may not be necessary to understand the Unibrow’s greatness, they do help reveal just how dominant he’s been in his first three seasons.
All it takes is one look at Basketball-Reference to see the historic nature of Davis’ rise in the NBA. Davis finished the regular season with a PER (player efficiency rating) of 30.8, becoming the youngest player in the history of the NBA to record a PER of 30. But wait, there’s more! Let’s look at Davis’ PERs through his first three seasons.
Not only are those all great PERs for a player at any age, they’re a record for players at those age. Put another way, Anthony Davis has set the record for age-specific PER every year he’s been in the league. What’s interesting about this is that PER often rewards high-volume shooters or traditional, back-to-the-basket big men, and neither descriptions fit Davis at all. Until this season, when his jump shot finally became a consistent weapon, Davis got most of his points within the restricted area, either off dunks, lay-ups or put-backs. It’s only now that the Pelicans throw it in to Davis and have him attack, or use him in pick-and-pop situations.
This is exciting, but also probably terrifying for the rest of the league. While the Pelicans reached the playoffs this year, thanks mostly to Davis’ heroics throughout the season, the Brow still hasn’t come close to reaching his full potential on offense (or on defense, for that matter).
In fact, he probably won’t for another year or two. It won’t be surprising if he breaks the record for PER among 22-year-olds, and it would only be slightly more shocking if at some point he shattered the all-time PER record during his career.