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Anthony Davis Can Crown Historic Season by Dragging Pelicans into NBA Playoffs

this is a discussion within the Pelicans Community Forum; Anthony Davis has been dangling his superstar credentials in front of the NBA for more than a year now, and the basketball universe should be prepped to stand in awe of the 22-year-old's dominance with the New Orleans Pelicans on ...

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Old 04-08-2015, 09:33 PM   #1
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Anthony Davis Can Crown Historic Season by Dragging Pelicans into NBA Playoffs

Anthony Davis has been dangling his superstar credentials in front of the NBA for more than a year now, and the basketball universe should be prepped to stand in awe of the 22-year-old's dominance with the New Orleans Pelicans on the precipice of a postseason berth.

And while he's been dragging the Pelicans into contention by the scruff of their neck all season long, Davis' performance hasn't been swaddled in the pomp and circumstance of Russell Westbrook's courageous efforts for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

A 103-100 win over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday officially signaled a changing of the guard at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture, with New Orleans throttling into the No. 8 seed and Oklahoma City sliding back into ninth place.

If that alignment holds, Davis won't just be the heir apparent to a star-studded NBA throne—he'll reign as the king of Big Easy basketball conquests.

"We look at ourselves as an elite team," Davis said following the win, according to The Associated Press (via ESPN.com) "We feel like we can play with anybody and we can beat anybody on any given night. We just got to go out there and play that way."

In his quest to help New Orleans snap a three-year postseason dry spell, Davis dropped 29 points against the Warriors, including 13 in the third quarter. Because trouncing opponents in the scoring column is never enough, Davis added 10 rebounds, four blocks, two steals and a couple of dimes for good measure.

But despite consistently going above and beyond the call of duty, Davis' name continues to be left by the wayside while Westbrook, Stephen Curry, James Harden, LeBron James and Chris Paul dominate the MVP conversation.



"No doubt, Russell Westbrook has put up numbers this season," NBC Sports' Kurt Helin wrote. "But so has Anthony Davis. From Day 1. Davis has averaged 24.4 points on 53.6 percent shooting, pulled down 10.4 rebounds a game and blocked three shots. He leads the league in PER (with a Jordan/Chamberlain-like number) and is fourth in win shares. He deserves MVP consideration."

Additionally, Davis is on pace to become the first player 22 years old or younger to notch a player efficiency rating higher than 30—a benchmark only seven other players have reached in league history.

Even more outrageous is that Davis will accomplish the feat during his third professional campaign. As Bleacher Report's Dan Favale noted, Michael Jordan, David Robinson and LeBron James didn't hit that mark until their fourth, fifth and sixth seasons, respectively.

On a list including James, Jordan, Robinson, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O'Neal, Tracy McGrady and Dwyane Wade, Davis is the only player who's going to have recorded a PER of at least 30 with a usage rate below 30.

Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal added that Davis' status as the charter member of that club is particularly mind-boggling, since higher PER ratings tend to skew in favor of players who shoot at higher volumes.



In terms of efficiency, Davis and Westbrook are creeping toward opposite ends of the spectrum.

While Russ has had no choice but to overcompensate for his team's shortcomings, Davis has played within the confines of the Pelicans' offense—and even ceded touches late in games.

To date, Davis' fourth-quarter usage rate (27) is second among Pelicans regulars behind swingman Tyreke Evans (28.6). That's absurd, since Davis is shooting 58.9 percent from the field in final frames, while Evans knocks down 41.3 percent of his looks during the game's final 12 minutes.

In other words, Davis doesn't just deserve more touches. He needs them—especially if New Orleans is going to continue resembling the stout first-round foe it moonlighted as against the Warriors.



"We've competed the last three years as an organization to get to this point, and now that we're here, we want to graduate," Pelicans head coach Monty Williams said, according to NBA.com's Shaun Powell. "This is what you work for. You see all the teams play at a high level this time of year and you want to be a part of it."

New Orleans can nab a postseason diploma, but it isn't going to come without hefty doses of Davis.

Of course, the Pelicans are healthier than they've been in quite awhile with Ryan Anderson and Evans humming on the wings at full strength. That's terrific news for New Orleans as it tries to hold onto the No. 8 seed, particularly with the length of Oklahoma City's injury report resembling a Tolstoy classic.

But at the end of the day, the Pelicans will only go as far as Davis drags them.

A veil of mystery still cloaks his game to a degree, but as the historic trajectory indicates, Davis can stand to shoulder an even heavier burden.

And with new pieces of his arsenal debuted on a regular basis, this groundbreaking season should serve as a prosperous foundation for a potentially legendary career.

A playoff berth would just be the cherry on top.



All statistics are current as of April 8 and courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com unless noted otherwise.

Read more New Orleans Pelicans news on BleacherReport.com



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