It didn’t take long for New Orleans Pelicans’ 20-year-old power forward Anthony Davis to make a name for himself in the NBA. In just his second year in the league, the former Kentucky Wildcat is destroying teams on both sides of the ball — and fantasy basketball owners are reaping the benefits. This week’s player rankings have Davis making a jump to elite status among the league’s power forwards.
Success as a rookie
After leading the Wildcats to a National Championship in his freshman season, Davis opted to leave school and enter the NBA Draft. New Orleans — who were the Hornets at the time — took him No. 1 overall, and he went on to finish second in the NBA Rookie of the Year voting, behind only the Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard. Upon first glance, his 2012-13 numbers don’t jump off the page at you, but they were very solid for any player, let alone a rookie. He scored 13.5 points, while grabbing 8.2 rebounds, blocking 1.8 shots and swiping 1.2 steals per game. The most impressive of his numbers had to be his shooting percentages, where he hit 51.6 percent of his shots from the floor and 75.1 percent of his free throws. Those shooting numbers are excellent for a first-year pro, and the free throw accuracy is especially good for a 6-foot-10 power forward.
Pelicans bitten by injury bug
The Pelicans came into the 2013-14 campaign with very high expectations. They pulled off a draft-day trade which netted them All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday and followed that by trading for talented sixth-man Tyreke Evans. Unfortunately for the Pelicans, they’ve been arguably the most injury-ravaged team in the league. Holiday is out with a stress fracture in his right tibia and second-leading scorer Ryan Anderson is contemplating surgery on a herniated disc. Those are two tough blows, not to mention backup center Jason Smith is done for the year after undergoing knee surgery and Evans has been hobbled all season long due to a balky ankle. He himself missed seven games after fracturing his hand on Dec. 1 vs. the New York Knicks, but through all the hard times, Davis has come through with solid stats game after game after game.
Davis is having a torrid two-week stretch
Davis is a player that has the makings of a superstar for years to come. He is tough inside, shoots well, and hustles like he wants to earn every rebound or loose ball. His numbers for the year are outstanding: a league-leading 3.3 blocks per game, as well as 20.4 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals. He’s increased last year’s field goal percentage (up 0.8 percent to 52.4) and raised his free throw percentage, as well (up 1.4 percent to 76.5). Over his last seven games he’s been nothing short of spectacular, leading the Pelicans to a 5-2 record (he missed one game in that span — a loss to Minnesota), which is incredible considering that it was coming on the heels of an eight-game losing streak. During those seven games, Davis averaged 23.4 points, 10.7 boards, 2.0 steals and a whopping 4.9 blocked shots. He has swatted an unheard of 21 shots in just the last three games combined!
Movin’ on up
Rarely do you see such dominance from an NBA player, and he’s surely carried fantasy owners up their league standings over the past few weeks. He may not be an All-Star, according to Western Conference coach Scott Brooks (which is insanely stupid, especially considering the game is being played in New Orleans), but he is one in my book. His current seven-game stretch is so absurdly good that it’s vaulted him past the Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge and into 2nd place in my fantasy basketball power forward rankings for this week: