Anthony Davis suffered a blow to the head in New Orleans’ 111-91 road win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday and did not return to action. He finished with 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks in 28 minutes.
At this point, it’s safe to say that Davis is a top-five talent in the NBA, but he sure seems to get nicked up a lot. Will he ever be durable enough to be a top-five player who can lead a team through an 82-game grind and, ultimately, a championship?
“Yeah, it’s tough,” CBS Sports NBA insider Ken Berger said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He got his bell rung again last night. Everything that I’ve been told this morning is he’s expected to be okay. In fact, he didn’t even need to go through the league’s concussion protocol after he came out of that game.”
Davis is averaging 24.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game this season, as the Pelicans (36-29) are neck-and-neck with the Oklahoma City Thunder (35-28) for the final playoff spot in the West.
“Statistically, he’s certainly had an MVP-type season,” Berger said. “Now, his team hasn’t had the kind of season that you would need, in my mind, to be in the mix for that award, especially the way (Stephen) Curry and (James) Harden (have played) – and even Chris Paul is starting to come on for the Clippers.
“But yeah, it’s tough,” Berger continued. “(Davis has) got to find a way to stay on the floor and be a little more durable. And it’s easy to forget he’s only, what, 21 or 22 years old? He’s going to get bigger and stronger.”
Davis, in fact, turned 22 on Wednesday.
Davis is one of several NBA superstars in his 20s. Curry, Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook – the list goes on. Heck, even LeBron James is only 30.
Is it crazy to think that we’re entering a Golden Age of NBA basketball? Is it crazy to think that we’re in an era that could equal – if not surpass – any era in NBA history?
“No, not at all,” Berger said. “And I think it goes beyond just the player-to-player comparisons – because we haven’t even gotten into (Tim) Duncan and (Dirk) Nowitzki and the proliferation of the European talent in the league and the Spanish and South American talent in the league. But beyond that, I just think the game is more entertaining now.”
While there’s still an affinity for the rough and rugged style of play that dominated the NBA in the 1980s and 1990s, the league’s emphasis today is almost entirely on skill.
“I like this better, I’ll be honest with you,” Berger said. “I think sometimes the league has gotten a little bit soft and a little bit too crazy with the (technical fouls) and the (flagrant fouls) and all that. But this brand of basketball, the way the Spurs play, the way pretty much every team plays now – moving the ball, shooting threes – I think is more entertaining than it was back then.”
And it’s not just in San Antonio, either. Now that former Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer is the head coach in Atlanta, the East has a team with a Gregg Popovich-like personality – minus, perhaps, the snarky in-game interviews.
The result? A 50-13 record and a 10.5-game lead in the East.
“They really do play a brand of basketball that you don’t see too much of in the East – and that’s the Spurs’ style,” Berger said. “He’s brought a lot of the Popovich offensive stuff to Atlanta. They move the ball and everybody moves and cuts and plays together. There’s action on the weak side. It just creates a fun environment to be in. They’re really good. I think anyone who looks at them and says (they can’t win without a star), they’ll be sorely mistaken.”