NEW ORLEANS — It’s easy to get overwhelmed by Anthony Davis’ dunks and his gravity-defying rebounds.
Lost in the dizzying array of athleticism, however, is something that makes Davis more special.
Something that separates him, at just five days past his 21st birthday, from nearly every other young player in the NBA.
It’s what those on the inside refer to “basketball IQ.”
After putting on yet another mind-boggling display – a 40-point, 21-rebound, three-block night in a 121-120 win over Boston – Davis claims he only has a small amount.
His on-court display recently shows otherwise.
Against Boston, Davis showed his smart with less than five seconds to play. Instead of going for a stat-padding dunk, he chose instead to hold onto the ball, passing it just before getting touched.
The move allowed the clock to run out. It also showed just how well he understands the games.
“I wasn’t trying to get fouled,” Davis said. “I tried to lure Jerryd Bayless over there and pass it to (Anthony Morrow) to get the clock running. We was only up one. Two free throws would be three and they hit three points and it’s another overtime. I was trying to use that basketball IQ, where we get the clock moving without them getting a foul.”
Said Monty Williams, the Pelicans’ coach, “At the end, he could’ve dunked the ball but he has enough savvy to know that you just have to run the clock out. It’s not about stats. Everything he does is about the team and trying to help us win.”
Oh, but those stats. They’re, well, they’re just spectacular right now.
He’s averaging 32.3 points, 14.3 rebounds and three blocks over the past six games. His 28-plus points in the past six games is a new team record, held by Glen Rice from the mid-1990s.
He’s only the eighth player in NBA history with at least 40 points, 20 rebounds and three blocks.
He’s also impressing those on his own team and who play or coach against him.
“I think he’s unreal,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said. “You know, I came into the game in January thinking, ‘Yeah, he’s an All-Star.’ And I leave here after twice playing him saying, ‘If there are 10 guys better in the league, I haven’t seen them.’ He’s really a special player.”
“You got a performance like that from AD, that’s special,” his teammate Brian Roberts said. “That’s all you can really say. Game in and game out now he’s getting it. It’s fun to sit here and have a front row seat and watch it for me.”
Indeed, it’s fun for everybody to watch, from the courtside seats to the uppermost balcony chairs.
And just wait until he fully matures and understands how to beat double teams and get everyone else involved.
It’s coming soon.
“It’s amazing that he just turned 21 and seems to have the game down,” Roberts said. “He knows where to pick and choose his spots to be aggressive. He can read the game now.”