“He could be one of the greatest power forwards ever,” said Kobe Bryant in an interview during the 2012 Summer Olympics games. “He’s an athletic Pau Gasol.” Who was Kobe referring to? No not Kevin Durant, and no not Kevin Love. He wasn’t even referring to King James himself. The player Kobe had such high praises for, at the time, hadn’t even played a single game in the league.
Anthony Davis has been taking basketball worlds by storm his entire career. Few had heard of the Chicago-born high schooler until he sprouted eight inches in just 18 months. Quickly becoming one of the nation’s top recruits, Davis signed with the University of Kentucky. Even with his extreme athleticism and height, there were criticisms on his durability, strength and all-around ability to “play with the big boys” in he paint.
At Kentucky, Davis silenced all critics. With his record-breaking shot-blocking performances and high-flying abilities, he helped lead Kentucky to their eighth National Championship. While most saw the unibrow heading to the NBA and potentially being the No. 1 overall pick, there were still some questions asked about his abilities and how they would translate at the next level.
Davis was indeed chosen as the first pick in the 2012 NBA draft by the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans). Despite the high lottery pick, no one expected it to be smooth sailing for the youngster; even many of Davis’ supporters expected him to take some time to blossom. According to many experts, he was just too skinny and too raw to make any real impact in his first year in the league.
In a way, they may have been right. In his first year in New Orleans, Davis did start 64 of the 67 games he played in, but he also averaged 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. While these were some solid rookie stats, it wasn’t the storm that Davis was used to making like he did at the levels before. That lack-of storm was fully realized when he failed to win Rookie of the Year, getting unanimously beat out by Portland’s Damian Lillard. Davis did finish second in the voting.
Despite the lackluster start, there has been no sophomore slump for this former-Wildcat. In fact, in his second year in the league, Davis increased his stats in every single category possible. Most significantly, he averaged a double-double for the season with 20.8 points and 10.0 rebounds. He continued to protect the rim with 2.8 blocks per game as well. The Pelicans also won seven more games than their previous season.
The stats weren’t the only thing that changed in the 6-10 growing-star. He gradually began bulking up, putting on weight to throw around in the paint. Some worried it would affect his playing style and high-flying athleticism. When the 2014-15 season rolled around, however, it was clear that wasn’t going to be an issue.
Just seven games into the new season, the storm has finally begun. Just three years in, people are finally taking notice of the kid from Chicago. He is bigger, stronger and still has improved his stats, once again, in every single category. He is averaging 24.9 points, 12.9 rebounds, and an incredible 4.4 blocks per game. Statistically, he is playing like one of the best players in the league.
Many are already claiming that Davis could be better than super stars like Lebron and Durant. While it is difficult to make such comparisons with different situations and playing styles to analyze, it is safe to say that Davis is playing at a caliber that few have reached, especially in their first three years. While his statistics will very likely level out some and this may not be the year that he is named as the league’s Most Valuable Player, things are definitely looking up for the UK alum. The question now for the Davis and the league as well: has the storm already hit, or is the storm only beginning?