Dig Baton Rouge

How High?

By Casey Gisclair

I was blessed with the opportunity this past week to attend a New Orleans Pelicans game. With the unbelievable fortune of being able to sit courtside on the first row, I was blessed to be able to see what just might end up being Los Angeles Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant’s final ever NBA game.

Sitting in the Chairman’s club just across from Byron Scott (see the TV replays for proof), I also saw first-hand what many in New Orleans already know: Anthony Davis is really stinking good.

He’s big, long, lanky, athletic and skilled. He can dribble. He can shoot. He can rebound, defend, block shots – all while being able to get up and down the floor in transition.

If basketball doesn’t work out, Davis can probably dominate in the concession stand, too – or the ticket booth. Or whatever else needs to be done within the confines of the Smoothie King Center.

He’s just that good. He’s that rare, once in a lifetime franchise player – the kind of guy that gives you a shot just by having him on your roster.

And here’s the kicker: He’s just 21. He has 10 years to get better. Count ‘em – 10 whole offseasons to work on his craft, refine his game and make the improvements he deems necessary in his game.

So with that said, the question has to become: How good can Anthony Davis be?

I’ll answer it. He can be the best power forward in the history of the NBA.

With Davis, the versatility is why he’s worth the hype. At the Lakers game last Wednesday night, I sat and watched pregame warmups. Of the 29 shots Davis attempted, he made 26. Of the three his missed, one was shot left-handed, and the other was going to go into the basketball, but got stopped by another ball being shot by Ryan Anderson.

Some of the shots were in the paint, but most were from the outside. The fact that a 6-foot, 10-inch man can be capable of shooting such a high percentage from so far away is a really stinking scary thought for the rest of the NBA.

In the game, Davis was just as accurate. He shot 11-of-18 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the foul line. He had 29 points, and made the game look really easy – one 20-footer after another.

When looking at how good Davis might be, I think the first logical step is to identify some of the players that he resembles on the floor so that we can make a career comparison. The guy that comes to mind first is Kevin Garnett – a guy who looks like Davis in both skillset and body type.

But when KG was 21, he averaged 18.5 points and 9.6 rebounds, while shooting 49 percent. Right now, Davis is above 24 points and 10 boards per game with almost three blocks. In Garnett’s peak year, he averaged 24.2 points and 13.9 rebounds – at the age of 27.

By the time Davis gets there, who knows?

In six more seasons, it’s not unreasonable to think that Davis can be scoring upwards of 30 points per game, while grabbing close to 13-14 rebounds.

If he does that consistently and helps ascend his team to title contention, he will unquestionably be recognized as the NBA’s best player once LeBron James leaves that throne.

If he’s able to sustain his current success for the next decade and pick up a championship ring or two along the way, he’ll be known as the best NBA power forward of all-time.

That’s high praise. Those are lofty expectations, but when a kid is 21 and doing the things AD is currently doing, all bets are off.

This kid is the real deal. This kid has what it takes. This kid is the NBA’s next great star.

And that all came to me as I sat and watched him crush the Lakers last Wednesday night – one 18-foot jumper at a time.


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