Anthony Davis: the Beginning is the End

Published: January 18, 2014

Amidst a season of disappointing losses, a rash of injuries, and horrible defense, there has been a bright spot in the Pelicans’ future, and it’s Anthony Davis. His production has hardly been a secret, as national writers and fans have taken notice of his gaudy statistics, but one storyline has surprisingly stayed well beneath the radar: Anthony Davis is already becoming a closer. A few days ago, Jake Madison took a look at this in his “A Tale of Two Halves” article, where he states:

If there is one bright spot for the Pelicans in the second half it is the corner stone of the franchise. Davis sees improvement in every major category. His shooting percentage and points increase. He gets to the line at a higher rate and his percentage from the stripe jumps by almost 20. He rebounds more and turns the ball over less. And as we saw recently, he can drain an occasional corner 3.

In an effort to measure just how much differently has Davis been playing in the 4th quarter, I decided to take a look at the stats. My first instinct was to compare Davis’s per 36 averages with his 4th quarter averages (also adjusted to a per 36 basis), but doing so would have made the difference smaller, because his 4th quarter production actually pulls his regular averages higher. Instead, I chose to analyze his 4th quarter data versus the first 3 quarters in an effort to isolate the data from any overlap. The statistics are adjusted to a per 36 minute basis. Here they are (courtesy of

1st 3 Quarters 7.47 14.94 0.50 3.93 5.42 0.73 3.76 6.60 10.35 1.35 1.79 18.87
4th Quarter 9.18 14.82 0.62 7.06 8.89 0.79 4.80 6.49 11.29 0.99 1.27 25.55


So there you have it: Davis isn’t taking more field goal attempts, but he’s making more. He’s taking more free throws and making them at a higher rate. He’s attacking the offensive boards harder.

One of my worries was that a possible team increase in pace could affect the data in the table above, so I took a peek at the pace in each timeframe of interest. The 4th quarter pace with Davis in is actually marginally slower than the average pace with Davis in the first 3 quarters. He’s scoring more, but he’s not reaping the statistical benefits of an increased pace. Of course, it’s not surprising that the game slows down in the 4th quarter, but I wanted to avoid any bias that would exaggerate his 4th quarter production. Davis’s rebounding percentages were also higher in the 4th, so his increase in raw rebounds is not misleading.

Davis OReb

Davis comes from the opposite side of the basket to clean up a miss from Jrue Holiday

The concept of a star player scoring more at the end of games is not a foreign one. But the concept of a 20 year old (whose reputation entering the NBA was as a defender) having a higher 4th quarter scoring average than Tony Parker, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dirk Nowitzki, Kyrie Irving, and Chris Paul is surprising.

But, like anything else Davis-related, he’s doing it differently from everyone else. The Pelicans aren’t exclusively drawing up plays for Davis to close games and the percentage of his field goals coming from assists is actually lower in the 4th than it is during the rest of the game. His 4th quarter boost has come from running the floor, rolling to the rim, and cleaning up misses.. like Harvey Dent, he’s making his own luck. It is a testament to his effort and his otherworldly ability go grab any offensive rebound in sight, but more importantly, it shows his willingness to be a garbageman on the floor despite being one of the NBA’s most talented players. He doesn’t mope around because he doesn’t have the ball and the spotlight in pivotal situations.

The season’s story is ending, but Davis’s reign is forthcoming; as bitter as the close losses taste, there’s nothing like witnessing the origin of greatness, and Davis’s production at the end of the game is the beginning of something truly great.







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