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.


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