The Pelicans as a whole are a mess and a lot of their mishaps come down to injury. The players don’t know the offense or defense, and many missed training camp due to injury. Players are constantly missing assignments and on offense they just look lost, but there is one specific player I wanted to focus on. Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis this year has taken a step backwards when many thought he would be unleashed with the pace and space movement that is being pushed forward with an offensive guru by the name of Alvin Gentry. Many of us had unreal expectations of what Davis could carry this team to with them being as injury riddled as they are. There’s more to this though and we’ll dive deep into the numbers to see what we can find out.
Anthony Davis was a guard in high school, then had a historic growth spurt to become the ridiculous athlete we know him as today. He has a better handle than most bigs. Knowing that, I find it a little bit odd that as soon as he even takes one dribble his field goal percentage drops 15%. That’s a steep drop especially for someone as talented as Davis is. Whenever he does not take a single dribble he shoots 55.8% and the one dribble drops him to 39.7%. You can also see that if he holds the ball for too long it could turn out bad. If he shoots the ball while not having it for more than 2 seconds he shoots at an extremely efficient 55.3%. If he holds it for any longer than 2 seconds his percentage drops nearly 20% going from 55.3% to 35.6%. In isolations this year, Davis has struggled. He’s shooting a putrid 29.2% on isolation plays. From what I can tell from watching the games and seeing these numbers is that Anthony Davis has not quite figured out how to use his elite athleticism to blow by defenders. He’s way too quick and has too good of a handle to not be able to take them in one on one situations; as he should be a matchup nightmare in those situations.
Post play is slowly dying in terms of it being a need for success in the NBA. Most teams use it more for passing than as a threat to score. Even though it is slowly becoming less relevant I’m still a firm believer that everyone needs some sort of post game in their repertoire as a big man. As of right now Anthony Davis has very little success in the post, shooting 31.6% in post ups. This is part of an ongoing issue. The Pelicans a lot of times look lost, and force feed the ball to Davis when it’s not working. Davis is not even the best post up player on his own team and Davis getting 4.3 post ups a game is a little bit ridiculous. He doesn’t have good footwork and sometimes trips over the defender’s feet. I need to see Davis down in Houston because his post game is too weak considering that he has the option of going to Hakeem and learning how to really be deadly in the post.
Now we start getting into the good stuff about Davis this year. Midrange jumpers have always been a specialty of his since coming into the league and he has become one of the most efficient mid range scorers in the league. This year he has been struggling in his usual money range, the 10-16 foot jumpers, seeing a dramatic drop there. Last year he shot 45.1% from there and this year he’s shooting 34.9%. I believe a lot of that has to do with an accumulation of the lack of team chemistry out there and never having the same starting lineup out there 5 games in a row. Otherwise, from all other ranges Davis has improved in small but noticeable increments. When Davis is running off of screens for shots he’s shooting 60.3% which is extremely efficient, but we will never see much of it naturally in this offense. In spot ups which we do get to see a good amount of from Davis he’s currently shooting 41.7%. That’s the highest % on his team of anyone with at least 2 possessions in spot ups per game. In Pick-and-Rolls, where Davis is most deadly, he is shooting 53.4% as the roll man which is good for 1st in the league of anyone getting at least 4 possessions a game; which he gets 5.4. (None of the rest have even 5.0 a game and he is still the most efficient). There is not a single player better than Anthony Davis in these situations. To my own surprise, Blake Griffin has not been as good as Davis in Pick-and-Rolls.
What this all comes down to is that Davis needs to get better at one on one situations. Physically this guy should dominate every person in the NBA when given an isolation, but instead he falters. That comes with experience and most stars find a signature move that stays with them for their entire career. Davis has yet find that move that he can rely on. My main issue with him that I need to see fixed this offseason, is less 3 pointers and more work down in Houston with Hakeem. Davis is completely atrocious in the post and that has to change. Again, he is only 22 years old and it is pretty amazing that he is as great as he is at this age. Everyone who knows me also knows that I am a huge Anthony Davis fan, but it was time to look at things objectively and realize everyone including myself needs to pump the brakes and allow him to grow. His time is coming and we all tried to give him the crown prematurely, but do not worry because I know Davis is not someone who will shy away from these issues and instead improve them and make them strengths that will eventually cement him as the historically great player that I believe he will be when it’s all said and done.
(All stats from NBA.com/stats and http://www.basketball-reference.com and are accurate as of 1/17/16)