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How the New Orleans Pelicans can maximise Anthony Davis' unreal potential

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Wow. That is all that is needed to describe the Pelican's Anthony Davis. At just 21, he has already solidified himself as a top-five player in the NBA with a skill-set that has never been seen before in basketball history.

The 6 foot 10 in power-forward showcased his incredible talents during his single year at Kentucky where he lead the Wildcats to a 38-2 record, a national championship and captured every single player of the year award possible.

There was no doubt that he was going to be the first pick in the 2012 draft and the then New Orleans Hornets obliged by taking him at the top spot. During his rookie year he showed flashes of what he could do, but a lack of size and strength restricted his abilities and lead to him missing several games due to injury.

Rookie year

During that offseason it was reported that he gained around 10-12 pounds of muscle. He worked relentlessly to bulk up his frame in order to deal with the beating that comes from playing in the NBA.

On opening night, debuting the New Orleans Pelicans Jersey, he looked primed and ready for a breakout season; and we weren't disappointed. He averaged 20.8 points and 10 rebounds to go along with a league-leading 2.8 blocks a game for the season, highlighted by a 40 point 21 rebound masterclass against the Celtics.

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He became the youngest player to average 20 points and 10 rebounds since Shaquille O'Neal in 1992. He earned his first All-Star trip and let the world know that he was coming.

Continuing to improve

During that offseason he bulked up again, upping his weight to 238lbs and was selected to represent Team USA at the World Cup in Spain where he played a major role leading the US to an unbeaten record and another gold medal, this to go along with the Olympic gold he helped capture two years prior before he had even played an NBA game.

Many experts and analysts began to debate just how good Davis could get with several stating that he was not only the best power-forward in the game, but even the third best player in the entire league behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant. What was this guy's limit?

Unstoppable talent

On opening night of this season Davis nearly had a triple-double, missing out by only a single block. Through 12 games he is 2nd in the league in points per games, 6th in rebounds, 3rd in steals and 1st in blocks whilst leading the league in PER at nearly 36, that's more than four points higher than anybody else.

Basically, Anthony Davis is a huge MVP contender right now, and given that he's only 21, many titles and awards await him in the future, if his ceiling can be reached.

Supporting Cast

The best way to maximise Davis's talent is to surround him with the best players possible for his skill-set. There's no point in acquiring guys that won't fit around him.

The best players for him to play with would be shooters who can also defend. Spread the floor so that he can go to work from the low-post and the top of the key. The Pelicans need their point-guard, shooting-guard and small-forward all to be big threats from the outside like the Blazers have.

The shooters will give Davis space to work with, and Davis will give shooters excellent catch-and-shoot opportunities when he passes out of double teams, which he will command.

Pelicans situation

At the moment, the Pelicans could do with some upgrading. They should keep Jrue Holiday, although he isn't a great 3-point threat, because of his size and play-making ability. They do however need to do something about Eric Gordon.

The under-sized two-guard's shooting ability has thoroughly deteriorated, he's only shooting 34.1% from behind the arc through 12 games and is very prone to injuries. Either he needs to start knocking down his shots or they need to get rid of him somehow.

Tyreke Evans has been shooting very well to start this season, 42.4% from treysville, but his career average is an abysmal 27.6%. Expect this season's percentage to go down as the season progresses. Evans is a very good ball-handler and back-up point guard however.

The Pels should keep him as a sixth-man to lead the charge from the bench and be on the lookout to acquire a good shooting small-forward in the immediate future. Ryan Anderson is one of the best stretch-4s in the league and combining him and Davis makes the Pelicans deadly on offense.

The acqusition of Omer Asik allows Davis to play the 4 more often, meaning he can concentrate on blocking shots and grabbing rebounds rather than being worn out banging down low.

What Davis can do

One of the reasons why everybody raves about Davis is that his intangibles are so good. He just wants to win and will do whatever it takes to to it. He is extremely coachable, never gets frustrated always keeping a cool head. He needs to keep up this attitude to absorb as much information as possible as he matures. 

Davis should follow in the footsteps of some of the other great bigs in NBA history, mainly Hakeem Olajuwon and Tim Duncan. Hakeem is the greatest post-player in league history, but he only started winning titles when he became a better team player and leader. He had to learn how to pass the ball, how to see the floor and to feed and help his teammates both on and off the court.

Over the years, under the guidance and tutelage of Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan has become one of the best team players in the history on sports. He has been the leader of the Spurs for nearly 15 years and it shows on the court. Davis needs to become a team-first player before he can win a title. He is by no means selfish, he justs need experience and guidance before he can take that final step towards immortality. 

Anthony Davis has a ceiling as high as some of the all-time great bigs such as Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal. If I had to chose one player to start my franchise with factoring in age it would be without a doubt Davis. He is so skilled and so talented that who knows where he could be in five years time? Only time, and his team can tell.

Topics:
New Orleans Hornets
NBA

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