Free Agency is a sideshow: Anthony Davis will be a Superstar

Published: July 1, 2013

With all the craziness about the draft and the opening of Free Agency, I wanted to make us all step back and remind everyone of one thing.

Anthony Davis is the present and future of the Pelicans. It is not the guys we traded for, the guys we sign this summer, or the guys we sign in the future. It’s Anthony Davis. And he just submitted an amazing season.

Maybe it was the rush to hand Damian Lillard the ROY trophy that prevented people from truly considering what Davis accomplished. If they drew attention to the fact Skynet was rocking, then they’d have to make the case that Lillard hadn’t done as much to help his team in 1500 more minutes than Davis had. So let’s consider Davis’ season and the franchise cornerstone.

Since 1979-80 and the start of the modern NBA era, six players aged 19 or younger produced more than 5 win shares in a season.(I.E. were worth more than 5 wins by that metric over the course of the season by themselves) The list? Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James . . . and Anthony Davis. That is a list Davis should already be proud to be a part of – but here’s the kicker – Anthony Davis is on that list while only playing 1846 minutes. Other than Bryant (who was also in his second NBA season) the rest of those guys played way more minutes. Here’s the chart:

Player Minutes Win Score Mins per Win
Anthony Davis 1846 6.1 303
Kobe Bryant 2056 6.3 326
Dwight Howard 2670 7.3 366
Chris Bosh 2510 6.2 405
Carmelo Anthony 2995 6.1 491
LeBron James 3122 5.1 612


So Anthony Davis not only hung with the big boy 19-year olds of the past, but he kinda pants’ed them. (Here’s a few more notable 19 year olds he outperformed: Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Tony Parker, Tracy McGrady, Starbury, Josh Smith, Tyson Chandler, and the immortal Maciej Lampe. (Sorry, had to throw him in there. Anyone else remember Lampe? And yes, this is a double parenthetical. I’m that awesome.))

So what can we expect next season? If look at other 19-year old players, three players compare well enough to Anthony Davis, production wise: Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, and Kevin Garnett.

Here are those three players, their 19-year old seasons, and their second season, normalized for 36 mintues.

19 KG 52.2 9.1 17.0 13.1 12.1 10.6 1.9 4.4 13.1
20 KG 53.7 7.6 16.8 12.2 12.5 14.1 1.9 4.1 15.7
19 Bosh 51.3 8.7 16.9 12.8 11.3 5.8 1.3 3.1 12.3
20 Bosh 54.7 7.1 20.0 13.5 13.1 8.6 1.3 2.7 16.3
19 Howard 57.1 12.2 22.2 17.3 16.1 4.4 1.5 3.6 13.2
20 Howard 56.5 12.1 29.2 20.9 15.9 7.2 1.2 3.0 15.4
19 Skynet 55.9 10.5 23.5 16.8 10.3 6.1 2.2 5.1 16.9


First, you’ll notice that Anthony Davis is already scoring at a higher rate than any of his comparables – and only the 20 year-old Dwight Howard was more efficient. Davis also has already out-produced his comparables, at both ages 19 and 20, in block percentage, steal percentage, turnover rate, and only Howard managed to beat him on the glass – barely as a 19 year old and soundly as a 20 year old.

You’ll also notice that all of those players improved significantly season to season. If you are a little silly and extrapolate an average improvement from those players, here’s Anthony Davis’s projected numbers next season:

Projected Skynet 57.8 9.8 27.4 17.8 10.6 10.1 2.1 4.7 19.4


That, my friends, is an All-star if the team is playing well. At age 20. All three of those guys – KG, Bosh and Howard – really blew up in season three. (though KG got the all-star nod in season 2 due to his defensive chops) By season 3 all of the guys were producing the equivalent of at least 10 wins a season by themselves. Davis is on track to do that in season 2.

So yes, Davis is a bona fide superstar in the making. Davis is a cornerstone.

Buckle up, it’ll be a fun ride.


  1. Nicks65

    July 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Great piece. I think a lot of Pels fans don’t realize how few minutes AD played last season. His per 36 numbers really show how great he already is. Great time to be a Pels fan.

    • palochak

      July 1, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      Nicks65 to echo what you’re saying, neither do fans of other NBA teams. I have been asked if his rookie year was “disappointing” to me.
      So little knowledge of what actually went on this year. Same can be said for Valanciunas, who can flat-out play.
       Great piece Ryan.

      • Nicks65

        July 1, 2013 at 2:50 pm

        palochak Nicks65 I had a friend who is a “Heat” fan ask if I thought he was the biggest bust in history. Yeah, people are crazy.

      • palochak

        July 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm

        Nicks65 palochak stop. You had me at Heat fan

      • Jason Calmes

        July 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm

        I referred to a certain player as a “bandwagon player,” though I said he was the NBA player equivalent of a Heat fan.

      • ADubya11

        July 3, 2013 at 11:34 am

        His rookie year was only disappointing in that we couldn’t watch more of him because of the injuries and treating him like fine china to protect the franchise’s future in a throwaway season.  In all other ways, as is evidenced by this post, his season was a resounding success, and his 2nd season with the talent Dell is putting around him should be incredible!  I will cut the casual NBA fans some slack though, when all they have to base opinions on is occassional highlights on ESPN and internet stories too unfocused to find gems like this piece of writing has done (and there are like, a billion games in a season).  Agree, Valanciunas is going to be really g

    • Roger.That.

      July 1, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Nicks65  I have a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier as well.  6 year old named Winston 🙂

      • Nicks65

        July 2, 2013 at 1:15 am

        Roger.That. Nicks65 My family and I have always been huge animal lovers. We have had tons of dogs, cats, horses, etc, but this guy (buster) is the best. Wheaten Terriers are just great.

  2. andregurov

    July 1, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Who needs 5 players on the court?  Forget SF … we’ve got Skynet!

  3. _CoachD

    July 1, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    So what this tells me is to expect greatness. Best 19 year old contribution per minute of any player in history? That’s how I read this.

    • ryanschwan

      July 1, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      _CoachD Not quite true – there are guys who had better per minute contributions, but those minutes were really, really short and they did not contribute many total wins.

  4. Roger.That.

    July 1, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    This is the most important post in the history of BSS, with the podcast featuring that Amine guy a close second.  Great job of re-adjusting our perspectives.

  5. RobertWelch

    July 1, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    So the question is, can the Pelicans put a team around AD (Skynet, I love the name) that will allow him to reach the potential of these lofty achievements thus far? When you look at a player like KG, he had to go to another franchise, one with a great history of winning championships, to get his first real opportunity to achieve the ultimate prize. KB had to get Shaq on his team to achieve his first opportunity at greatness, and of course LBJ had to team up with both CB and Wade to fulfill his promise. Can the Pelicans put the pieces around AD that will allow him to have his opportunity to hold the trophy one day that proves to the world, on this day, he is THE champion?

    • Houpgarou

      July 2, 2013 at 6:33 am

      Look at what we have already and are assembling for this season, looks to be better than anything minny had for kg, Orl for Dwight or cle for lbj

  6. Houpgarou

    July 2, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Looks like dell is putting some players around Anthony that really complement him. Start last year with an amazing stretch 4 to keep a big out da paint, now add 3 players extremely capable of getting / making shots for themselves so he doesn’t have pressure to do too much, but most importantly all are extremely capable of getting the ball up quickly and feeding him in transition AND getting him the ball in good position in a half court offense. I’m starting to really warm up to this small ball thing!

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