NBA Cornerstones: Power Forward

Cornerstone players will be a recurring theme on Second Look Sports where I look at each position in a certain sport and I choose a cornerstone player to build my franchise around. I have a couple of parameters for this selection though. I will factor in age, potential, injury history, experience, reputation and production. I think this should be a fun and interesting topic to discuss on here. I hope you guys agree.

The selection- Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Honorable mentions- LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker, Derrick Favors

There is a lot of talent at the power forward position right now in the NBA. There is a solid contingency of older players who are still holding down the fort and there is the new wave that is taking over more and more. At the head of the young wave is the massive man from the Bayou: Anthony Davis. Davis is oozing with potential. At the age of twenty-one he is becoming a dominant scorer and is an even better defensive player. His ability to control the paint on both ends of the floor make Davis special.

Davis is still developing as an offensive player but defensively, he has already come into his own. The Pelicans’ big man leads the NBA with 2.86 blocks per game, which would be the second year in a row that he topped the league in that category. Davis also leads all power forwards in steals per game at 1.62, well ahead of the next man as well with only 1.38. Davis also ranks in the top ten for all players when it comes to steals per turnover ratio, which is best among power forwards. The lanky kid from Kentucky is showing he can do it all and he will likely still get stronger as he continues to play with the pros.

While he may be better defensively, that should not take anything away from his offensive performance. So far this season, Davis is averaging 24.5 points per game, good for third in the NBA and most among power forwards. His shooting is much better this season as well. He has gone from shooting under 52 percent to now knocking down 55.5 percent of his looks. He has also shown steady improvement in his free throw shooting. The third year veteran finished his rookie season shooting 75 percent from the line. He bumped that number up to 79 percent last season and now he is hitting 83 percent of his attempts this season.

As a rebounder, Davis has been one of the best in the NBA. He has ranked in the top ten each of the last two seasons, averaging more than ten boards per game. Davis’ huge frame and freakish athleticism makes him a lot to handle in the paint and make him a great prototypical rebounder. His ability to average a double-double and rack up almost three blocks per game puts him into the category of an elite player.

There are a few knocks against Davis though. He excels in close to the basket but does not have a reliable mid-range jumper. He also has a bit of an injury history. In his first two seasons, Davis only managed to appear in 64 and 67 games respectively. He is faring better this year, but still has already missed five games. He also has zero playoff experience, not that many high draft picks do in their first few season, but it is worth noting. It is concerning to pick a player who is not guaranteed to be on the court every night but Davis’ play and potential outweigh the risk.

Looking past the basic stats as well, Davis has been pretty stellar this year. Davis leads the league in Win Shares per 48 minutes played this season and ranks second only behind James Harden in Win Shares overall. New Orleans’ superstar also tops the league for Player Efficiency Rating with a staggering 31.83 rating. If the season ended today that would be the best mark in NBA history. Yes, all time. That includes Jordan, Wilt, Kareem, LeBron, Shaq and any other Hall of Famer (or future Hall of Famer) you want to consider. And Davis is only getting warmed up.

Davis’ potential is scary. He is already making a huge impact on the league and likely will be in conversation for MVP at the end of this season. The ceiling for this kid is unparalleled and I do not think he has met it yet. As good as Griffin and Aldridge are right now, it is hard to argue that Davis is not already better than both of them are. If he isn’t yet, he certainly will be. There is no doubt in my mind that Davis will be a great NBA player and he might just be the best player in the league three years from now, leading who knows what team on the march for an NBA title.

For more Cornerstone selections, click here.