The New Orleans Pelicans did it. They managed to navigate the brutal Western Conference and earn the eight seed. While that likely means they will just be the first team to lose to Golden State in the playoffs, it is still an accomplishment for a team who is probably a bit ahead of schedule. Not to mention a fan base that can’t help but be excited that they get to participate in postseason shenanigans, even if they know they don’t have a realistic shot of doing any damage.
That’s great. It really is. However, it isn’t what is necessarily important to fans, or even the main reason people seem to be happy that the Pelicans made the playoffs rather than the injury-riddled Thunder. Instead, the basketball world seems to be overjoyed that more people, more often, and on a bigger stage, will now get to partake in watching Anthony Davis play.
Davis’ exploits were well known in college. Heck, he has even gained plenty of steam as being one of the best players in the league the last two years, as far as the perception of him is concerned. Yet, because New Orleans doesn’t get a ton of nationally televised games, many haven’t been able to watch him as regularly as they would like. Not now, though. Not anymore.
I am not too sure it is even possible, but if you are unaware of how awesome Anthony Davis is, let’s give you a quick summary of all his abilities.
- Has the skill set of a guard despite being 6’10”.
- Legitimately averages a double-double per game (24.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg).
- Can reject players’ advances to the basket like he’s your high school crush (2.9 bpg).
- Sigh. Yeah. The brow.
- If he currently already isn’t, Davis near being a top-five player.
- Davis is revolutionizing the PF position.
- He’s still only 22 and will continue to get better.
- And, roughly, 902342 more awesome things.
Not too bad, right?
Davis is essentially doing what Kevin Garnett did most recently: Revolutionizing the power forward position. Unlike others who have done similar things before, Davis is defying logic. Since he was originally sized to be a guard, and didn’t hit his growth-spurt until late in high school, Davis’ guard skills make him unlike anything people have seen before him.
While encompassing the size of a power forward, Davis’ ability to handle the ball, move quickly, and possess an array of offensive skills while facing the basket — yet still incorporating more “true” big men maneuvers into his arsenal — puts him ahead of everyone except LeBron James as the most well-rounded player in the NBA. Not to mention, um, the distance between the two in that category is not as far apart as your initial gut reaction would lead it to be.
The Pelicans have a long way to go before they can compete in the playoffs. They have far too many flaws and a roster that doesn’t scream “we be awesome” all over it. It also doesn’t help that they play in the West, either. More importantly than that, many just assume Davis will bolt from the organization as soon as his contract is up. Regardless, that is looking too far down the road anyway. Everyone, especially Pelicans fans, should just enjoy the fun while we all have it — and before media critics start plucking random flaws out of his game because he didn’t win a title by the time he was 25.
None of the positives spewed in this article break any new ground. Everyone, and their respective mothers, already knows Anthony Davis is humorously talented and, likely, the future best player in the league. What is debatable for now, though, Davis’ ascendance to best player status might be happening quicker than anyone could have expected. As LeBron James is getting older, and has decided to reboot his Cleveland team like Hollywood seems to be doing to every 1980s blockbuster, Davis has been developing into a great player in the quickest of quick fashions.
He isn’t there yet. Davis isn’t a fully functioning NBA wildebeest. Which might be the scariest part of his current incarnation. Despite all the great parts that currently encompass his game, Davis isn’t even close to being as good as he will one day be. Basically, Davis might be a top-five player now, but his game is only about halfway toward becoming a finished product. This is his origin story.
At the end of the day the NBA is all about the playoffs. People judge players by how deep they can take teams in it and, ultimately, how many rings they end up with. The Pelicans aren’t even close to being in a position to help Davis do that now. But hey, everyone has to start somewhere.
Maybe winning two games against one of the best teams in the entire league will be good enough, right now, to help increase the growing notion that Davis can be a transcendent player. Possibly an all-time all-timer — and, thankfully, none of that is hyperbole.