Anthony Davis Showing Patience on Offense

Published: November 15, 2016

This year Anthony Davis has been an absolute banshee on the court for the New Orleans Pelicans despite their winless start. He’s third in the league in scoring per game, averaging 31.3 points per game. This is well above the 24.3 he averaged last season. And the stats show that he is having a much more efficient season.

Look at the table below.


Despite the significant increase in USG%, Davis is showing improvement all around. Some of that has to do with Davis being healthy, but more than that he’s added a new facet to his game. It’s not a move or different type of shot. It’s a wrinkle that doesn’t jump off the screen at you.

It’s patience.

Last season Davis received a tremendous amount of double and triple teams. More often than not, as no teammate on the Pelicans rotated around him in these situations, Davis was forced to take a bad jumper or turn the ball over. Opponents playing Davis this way are the reason he posted his highest TOV% since his rookie year.

This year the double and triple (sometimes even quintuple) teams are still occurring. But after a season of seeing this strategy constantly, Davis knows how to react.

Take a look.

Davis catches the ball on the left side of the court and immediately gets double teamed by Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. None of the other Pelicans move leaving Davis to figure out what to do. In years past this play would end with Davis hoisting up a contested jumper, or putting the ball on the ground to drive and having it poked away.

But this year is different. Davis isn’t frazzled and calmly dribbles away from the double team and towards Buddy Hield. Thompson, seeing the open three-point shooter, comes back to his original defensive assignment. Matched up one on one, and with the chances for a turnover decreased, Davis put the ball on the count and attacks. You see how it ends, with Davis creating enough room to score.

Look at another example.

This is why the Pelicans feel confident with Davis having such a high usage rate. Davis gets the ball, and is immediately doubled. Rather than forcing up a bad shot, or turning the ball over by driving into traffic, Davis calmly waits for Tim Frazier to curl up top for an outlet. Davis doesn’t score on this play, but he keeps the possession alive. For a team that is struggling on offense, turnovers and bad shot selection are brutal.

And the good news is that Jrue Holiday is potentially expected back for Friday’s game. Davis had his eFG% increase by 7.8% when he was on the court with Holiday last season. While you shouldn’t expect that increase this year, Davis will only be better with Holiday on the court. That alone won’t be enough to fix this anemic Pelicans offense, but it should keep opposing coaches up at night.

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