In 75 regular season games last year, Anthony Davis didn’t eclipse a 40% field goal percentage a mere six times. Through seven appearances of this young 2018-19 campaign, he has already failed to surpass that mark four times following the tenth game on the schedule.
It’s not hard to fathom Davis is likely still suffering from the effects of an injury he sustained against the Brooklyn Nets, but should that argument be used to explain away all of the other troubling displays?
After the loss to the San Antonio Spurs a few nights ago, I had remarked I simply preferred LaMarcus Aldridge’s effort to AD’s in the comments section of our recap and someone brought up the injury — hey, all of his woeful shooting performances have occurred after straining his right, shooting elbow. However, the problem is that he hasn’t only struggled with putting the ball through the hoop; there’s been issues at times with focus, effort and decision-making, too.
In the opening minutes of last night’s loss to the Thunder, Davis had a particularly poor sequence that deserves highlighting.
Davis’ first error was sticking too closely to a 25% three-point shooter on the perimeter rather than staying on top of Steven Adams, who was positioned right next to the rim after Nikola Mirotic doubled Russell Westbrook. AD then took a half-hearted fadeaway jumpshot for his first attempt of the game, but following the miss, he allowed Adams to beat him up the floor, leading directly to another easy two points for OKC.
The rest of his first half went better: Davis looked to get others involved early, stayed away from shooting jumpers (only two attempts outside of the paint), and there is evidence of good hustle — diving for an offensive rebound late in the second quarter after the Pels had closed a 10-point deficit to within a single possession. However, this reach on Paul George with the halftime buzzer seconds away from sounding and the Pelicans up three points seemed to be a harbinger of more bad things to come.
That’s an unforgivable personal foul and Davis knows it.
Unfortunately for the Pelicans, things deteriorated rapidly after intermission for AD as six of his nine field goal attempts came outside of the paint (he made none of them) and he committed the same number of turnovers (3) as he collected rebounds.
The worst stretch occurred towards the end of the third quarter, soon after Westbrook left the game with a left foot ankle sprain at the 4:25 mark. New Orleans had whittled down a seven-point deficit to 84-82 and momentum was firmly on their side — or so one would have thought. The crowd was eerily quiet, and with the Thunder down a star player, New Orleans was in position to seize control of the game.
Comically — if you’re into weird, kinky stuff, things couldn’t have worked out any more differently because literally a dam broke over the final three minutes of the third. Turnover after turnover, four in all, helped propel the Thunder to a 16-4 run. Included within the disaster were these couple of uglies.
With Holiday taking a rest, the offense became extra dependent on Davis, who committed a live ball turnover dribbling the basketball here, leading to an easy slam for Hamidou Diallo. The Pelicans were actually fortunate the Thunder didn’t widen their advantage further as they proceeded to miss three consecutive free throws.
Seconds later, Davis completely lost focus with this what-were-you-thinking move.
It’s clear AD shuffled his feet upon reception of the ball. This turnover was New Orleans’ 10th of the third quarter, which greatly assisted the Thunder in blowing out the Pelicans by a 38-23 margin in the frame.
New Orleans made things interesting in the fourth, but it was to no avail. Chalk up another loss, the Pelicans’ sixth in a row. The blame for this one sits squarely on the entire team, yet it’s difficult to not ponder, what has happened to our extraterrestrial from another world, Anthony Davis?
Look, there’s no doubting Davis’ elbow remains an issue. Check out this video clip of him shooting free throws towards the end of the 1st half.
We have no idea of how much pain Davis has been playing through nor how restricted his his arm movements are with that sleeve, but he did put himself front and center awhile back when making the announcement that he is the most dominant player in the league. With that kind of talk, there comes added responsibility, including little to no room for any excuses when on the court. Such is how the game is played.
One final thought: Searching for the worst moments in AD’s performance was not a fun exercise, but I felt compelled to do so because you’ve got to wonder just how many teammates, coaches, friends and even family feel confident enough to go there. Davis and the rest of the Pelicans need someone to go there. Their performances have slipped off a cliff, and although it’s early, we know just how quickly an early part of the schedule can avalanche a whole regular season away.
Here’s to hoping you find your way, guys.