The boring way in which Skynet is excelling

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Published: February 22, 2013
Anthony Davis

Numbers draw attention. Davis doesn’t have them. Or does he?

Iverson scored 30 a game. Shaq went for 28 and 13. LeBron is putting up 27-8-7. Kevin Garnett put up 20-10-5 for 7 straight seasons. These things matter when it comes to the greater conversation about a player’s greatness. A guy must be special. He must stand out – and that would normally be a problem with the Tim Duncan Narrative. He’s now acknowledged as one of the greatest Power Forwards of all time, but if he hadn’t managed to win four rings and hang his hat on that, what numbers would his partisans point to? His best year he averaged 25 points per game. Dozens of players have done that. His best rebounding season he averaged 12.9. Dozens of players have done that. He averaged 2.9 blocks per game one season. That doesn’t even have the cachet of being “3”, much less four, the gold standard. Oh, and he shot about 50% for his career. Isn’t that the definition of unspectacular? Make one, miss one. Bleh.

Some would argue he was consistent and that every year he gave the same good, consistent numbers – but consistent is such an unsexy word – and isn’t even exclusive to praise. Xavier Henry has been consistent this year. Consistently garbage.

Here’s the key about Tim Duncan’s numbers, though: He was better than average at everything. For a power forward or center, his FG% was above average. His DRB, ORB, FTA, FTM, BLKs, Stls, TOs, PF, PTS, etc, etc – they were all above the league average. Night in and night out, he was going to be better than your guy in most categories. Maybe not in every category, but in most of them. Is that spectacular and water-cooler worthy? No. But he had no holes in his game either – and that’s tough to beat.

As of right now, it appears that SkyNet and his Rookie of the Year campaign is facing a similar problem – except it’s exacerbated by his short minutes. Anthony shoots 50%. He scores 12.5 points and grabs 7.5 rebounds. 1.2 steals. 1.9 blocks. 1 assist. 3 FTAs. Nothing stands out. Nothing is spectacular. Hell, even I admit nothing challenges Damian Lillard’s somewhat pedestrian 18 and 6 per game.

Of course, all that is an illusion. Lillard is most likely going to win the Rookie of the Year this season – but per 48 minutes he’s actually below average for a point guard in rebounds, assists, turnovers, steals, FG%, and 3FG%, and at the league average for points per shot for a point guard due to nice free throw numbers. Now, he’s a rookie and playing 38 minutes a game. What he’s doing is pretty good – and 18 points per game is a pretty spectacular raw number for a rookie – but has he been special? I’d say no.

Enter the Unibrow. Per 48 minutes, Anthony Davis is better than the league average for power forwards at points, defensive rebounding, offensive rebounding, turnovers, blocks, steals, personal fouls, 2-point field goal percentage, free throw attempts, true shooting percentage, and points per shot. In fact, Anthony Davis is below the league average for power forwards in only four categories: FT% (70.2% vs 73.6%), assists (1.6 vs 2.8), and 3Pt%(0% vs 34.8%) and 3Pt attempts.(0.2 vs 2.0)

He’s been special – just not spectacular – and other than his block numbers, I’m not sure he’ll ever be. But he’s only 19, and if he improves at all and gets starters minutes, there’s little doubt he’ll anchor a lot of excellent teams in a lot of different ways – and like fans in San Antonio, I’m not going to care about spectacular.

(By the way, If he ends up with no holes in his game, should we call him the “Unholy one”? Is that too “witty”?)

For fun, here’s the tables for Anthony Davis comparing his numbers to those of the league average Power Forward – and I tossed Center in there too.  Red numbers are where Anthony doesn’t surpass league averages for power forwards – and the numbers are produced per 48 minutes.

PTS DREB OREB REB AST TO BLK STL PF
Skynet

21.6

8.9

3.9

12.9

1.6

2.5

3.2

2

4.1

Average PF

19.9

7.9

3.4

11.3

2.8

2.6

1.2

1.3

4.7

Average C

17.8

8.6

4.1

12.7

2.3

2.7

2.1

1.1

5.4

 

FG% 2FG% TS% FGA PPS FTA FT%
Unibrow

51.4

52.0

54.8

17.3

1.25

5.4

70.2

Average PF

47.0

48.7

53.4

16.3

1.22

5.2

73.6

Average C

49.7

50.4

54.2

14.1

1.26

5.3

68.1

12 comments
thouse
thouse

Great read. The most frustrating thing is the major network mouthpieces are lazy (as usual) and dogging Davis for no reason (see Simmons, Bill before the Cavs game). Did they forget Davis was the NCAA tournament MOP after 1-10 night in the championship game? His offense is not where his greatness lies...yet Compared to expectations, Davis's scoring has been very impressive. Still inconsistent at times, but much better than I anticipated. Add in the great work you detailed on the glass, protecting the rim, etc, and Davis is well on his way to being a superstar.

Chuck
Chuck

I disagree with the premise of this article. Are you saying that if Duncan hadn't won the titles, we wouldn't have been impressed by him because his numbers are pedestrian and he's not flashy? His numbers are not "bleh," career averages of 20/11/2 for 16 years are impressive no matter how many titles he's won. Do we think of Webber, Barkley, Zo, or Ewing as bleh even though they never won titles? I get that they may have had individual seasons better than Duncan, but his body of work speaks for itself, with or without the titles. The titles and defense push his case from "one of the best" to "the best."

ClubLevelPete
ClubLevelPete

I still can't understand now a site of this quality and thoroughness continues to defy logic and tries to force the historically awful "Skynet" nickname on our young franchise player. Please stop this immediately. It makes absolutely no sense. You are all bright guys - you know when something works and when it doesn't. Please accept defeat on this small matter and continue providing excellent Hornets/Pelicans coverage. Respectfully, ClubLevelPete

Nick Lewellen
Nick Lewellen

I'm glad someone wrote this article. Davis has been the definition of "unsexy" this year, and it is easy to understand why fans may be getting a bit worried. He is the savior, after all. Anyway, the other day at work I was thinking, "how can I work less?" So I got on basketball reference to see how many rookies there have been, who were centers or forwards, played over 25 minutes a game, and had a PER over 20 since 1990. Here is the list I found: Shaq, Tim Duncan, Blake Griffin, Chris Webber, Zo Mourning, Yao Ming, Elton Brand, and Davis. There are a lot of good names on that list, but Davis is towards the bottom in a quite few categories even when adjusted for 48 minutes. Still, he has time this season to raise his some of his numbers. The point is Davis has been a bit sexier than we all thought. The link to my table is at the bottom. http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/psl_finder.cgi?request=1&match=single&type=per_minute&per_minute_base=48&lg_id=NBA&is_playoffs=N&year_min=1991&year_max=&franch_id=&season_start=1&season_end=1&age_min=0&age_max=99&height_min=0&height_max=99&birth_country_is=Y&birth_country=&is_active=&is_hof=&is_as=&as_comp=gt&as_val=&pos_is_f=Y&pos_is_fc=Y&pos_is_c=Y&pos_is_cf=Y&qual=&c1stat=mp_per_g&c1comp=gt&c1val=25&c2stat=per&c2comp=gt&c2val=20&c3stat=&c3comp=gt&c3val=&c4stat=&c4comp=gt&c4val=&c5stat=&c5comp=gt&c6mult=1.0&c6stat=&order_by=ws

WhoDatPelican96
WhoDatPelican96

The point is that they aren't lebron and MJ numbers. Very non-flashy. Throw in titles. And average fans will actually notice him

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

There is no site opinion. Maybe we all Davis to both. advanced stats. Frankly, I dislike manufactured nicknames on principle. See: T-Bone Costanza. I'd prefer Brow-wow to Skynet. I'd prefer Davis to both.

Michael Pellissier
Michael Pellissier

Anthony Davis is 19, but his body is 17. If he's accomplishing this with average to below-average guard play, while physically outmatched by literally every opponent, with no NBA experience, what is he going to do when some or all of those deficiencies improve? And we don't have to waste 2-3 years watching him only try to do exciting dunks (cough, Griffin). He can develop stuff that will last into his 30s

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

But to take it a step forward, look at the ages of the other guys. Davis is the youngest, and by a few years compared to some of the other guys like Zo and Duncan. I can't wait to compare 21 year old Davis with 21 year old Duncan.

JJacob
JJacob

The thing is, I'm supposed to be T-Bone... Hahaha I love it.