Over the past few years, I have begun to follow the NBA more and more. When I was a kid, I never enjoyed watching the NBA unless Steve Francis or Allen Iverson was playing. Those were the days. I just always felt that the NBA players were never trying, like they didn’t need to play hard because they were getting millions of dollars to play the game they loved, and it seemed like no one ever played defense. Then again, I was around 10 years old. All of this is basically false—except for the defense thing, that still kind of happens (prime example James Harden). Now, I am an avid NBA lover. I find myself doing a lot of research in the offseason and during the season. One thing I love to look at are breakout players to watch for the season (read my last blog). There was one name that constantly came up in most articles that I read, and that name is Anthony Davis. See, I don’t see Davis as a breakout candidate, because I feel that he broke out last season.
Last year, Anthony Davis was one of only five players to average at least 20.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Of those players, only two shot over 50 percent from the field, Davis being one of them. He was one of only four players to average at least 2.0 blocks per game, and he led the league in that category with a clip of 2.8 blocks per game. He was also just one of 11 players to average 1.0 block and 1.0 steal per game. Not even the likes of LeBron James or MVP Kevin Durant managed to do that. Take a look at his stats from his rookie year to last season:
If this doesn’t explain Davis’ improvement from year to year and prove that he broke out last season, I don’t know what does.
Davis’ stats definitely show how well he improved over his rookie year, but it isn’t all in the statistics. He improved many aspects of his game, from working on his mechanics to improving his jump shot. In his rookie season, Davis excelled mostly in the pick and roll offense, and that was the biggest part of his offensive game. If you watched his game last year, you would see that he was much more fearless when it came to attacking the basket. He had many highlight dunks and tremendous finishes around the rim, and that feared his opponents. But we also saw him take more mid-range and three point shots. Expanding his range was just one major improvement for him, as you can see he shot 22 percent from deep last year and 0 percent his rookie season. But the defensive end is probably where he made his biggest impact. He averaged one more block per game and did a little better getting steals than he did in his rookie year. He averaged 4.7 blocks per game while at Kentucky, and he brought that intensity back with him.
See, I don’t think Anthony Davis is a potential breakout candidate. I think he’s already at the top. With the way that he has started the 2014-15 season and how he played for Team USA in the FIBA World Championship, I think that it’s safe to say that Davis is arguably a top-10 player in this league. In his first game this season, he recorded 26 points, 17 rebounds, 9 blocks, 3 steals and 2 assists. We haven’t seen this exact stat line since Hakeem Olajuwon did it in the 1989-90 season. In two games this season, Davis is averaging 28.5 points, 16.0 rebounds (7.5 offensive), 2.5 steals and 6.0 blocks. I believe this all but solidifies his status as one of the best in the Association.
Follow Griffin on Twitter @Jewcifer22