Anthony Davis is keeping the Pelicans in the playoff picture
If the playoffs started today, New Orleans would be in. That might not be how things look at the end of the season, but any team with an MVP candidate on its roster is one that shouldn’t be ignored.
Davis’ latest masterpiece came Sunday night against the Thunder. He scored 38 points while missing just six shots,pulled down 12 rebounds and had three blocks to led the Pelicans to a 101-99 road victory in front of the loudest crowd in the league. If the season ended today, the Pelicans would be the West’s No. 8 seed and the 21-year-old Davis could be the MVP.
Davis was always an athletic freak, but his skills are catching up this natural talent. Davis connected on just 37 percent of the 209 jumpers he attempted from between 16 and 24 feet last season, per NBA.com. This year, he’s already taken 108 and has hit 50 percent of them. Now, he equally good rolling to the rim or popping for a outside shot. Defenders have to come guard him, opening up drives to the basket.
The numbers are astonishing. Davis is averaging 24.7 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game — fourth in the league in scoring and first in blocks. He’s shooting 58 percent from the field. He’s has the league’s top PER at 33.5. And with Davis, the Pelicans have built one of the top offenses in the league. New Orleans is sixth in the league in offensive rating, scoring 107.2 points per 100 possessions overall and 108.4 when Davis is on the court.
Sunday night against the Thunder was a perfect example of the offensive beast Davis has become. Davis drove and posted up, but he also had his jump shot going early, which opened up everything else.
Davis’ performance was especially impressive because it came just 24 hours after a poor one against the Blazers Saturday, when he was held to 3-14 shooting and just seven points. He and his teammates also had no answer for LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 27 points in Portland’s 114-88 shellacking. To bounce back from that with a 38-point gem against a talented (even without Kevin Durant) Thunder team shows exactly why the Pelicans should not be ignored in the Western Conference playoff race.
Here are the current Western Conference standings:
The top seven teams look like a given to make the playoffs, and many have penciled the Thunder in so long as Durant and Russell Westbrook stay healthy. The Western Conference is that stacked, so New Orleans’ chances of staying in the top eight remain slim.
But you never know what can happen. What we do know is that Pelicans have one of the best player in the league putting on their uniform every night. That’s enough to give them a puncher’s chance.