With Pelicans ready to playoff contention, Anthony Davis still leads the way
NEW ORLEANS — Since he arrived in New Orleans as the number one overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Anthony Davis has proven that he’s one of the league’s premier talents.
Now in his sixth season, Davis ranks in the top five in franchise history in games played, total minutes, rebounds, assists, and steals. Wednesday night, his 29 points moved him past Chris Paul into second place on New Orleans’ all-time scoring list. AD sits just 752 points behind David West.
But statistical excellence, four All-Star selections, two All-Defensive Second Team nods, and twice being named First Team All-NBA, have not translated into team success for Davis. The Pelicans have made just one playoff appearance with him on the roster.
Not to say that falls on Davis’ shoulders. There’s been a revolving door of teammates, and too many injuries to count. While he has been the foundation that the Pelicans have tried to build upon, construction of a viable franchise remains a work in progress.
This season the Pelicans are off to a 10-8 start, nothing to write home about, but considering where they’ve been the last two seasons, fans are justifiably optimistic.
It certainly hasn’t hurt that DeMarcus Cousins joined the team at the trade deadline last season, instantly becoming the most talented teammate Davis has had. The additions of veterans like Rajon Rondo and Tony Allen have brought much needed maturity and experience to the roster as well.
But nothing and no one has been as important as Davis. At 24 years old, still relatively “a baby” according to Head Coach Alvin Gentry, Davis is no longer the team leader simply by virtue of his talent. He’s putting his imprint all over this year’s team and, in turn, the NBA.
Davis is more emotional on the court, something he says he’s made a conscious effort to be. He’s been more vocal with his teammates and has been vital in working to create a winning attitude and culture for the Pelicans.
His honesty about the team’s shortcomings in victory and his steadiness after a loss are markedly different than the frustration and resignation that could be seen on his face much of the last two years.
Davis no longer wants to win, he believes he can.
The difference between being a star and a superstar in the NBA generally comes down to winning. This may be the year when Anthony Davis is able to make that step into the rarified air of a true franchise player. If so, the future of the Pelicans can only get brighter.
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David Grubb has more than a decade of experience in the sports industry. He began his career with KLAX-TV in Alexandria, La. and followed that up with a stint as an reporter and anchor with WGGB-TV in Springfield, Mass. After spending a few years away from the industry, David worked as sports information director for Southern University at New Orleans…