The New Orleans Pelicans' season on the whole has been a disappointment, but there's still reason to be really excited for their future. That's because Anthony Davis, at the ripe age of 21, is already one of the best players in the NBA.
Davis has been superb all season when healthy, and he reached new heights in the Pelicans' thrilling 121-120 overtime victory over the Boston Celtics. Davis finished the game with career highs of 40 points and 21 rebounds in 48 minutes, shooting 14-for-22 from the field and 12-for-12 on free throws. Davis is only the 13th player since the 1985-86 season to record at least 40 points and 20 rebounds in a game, and he's the youngest since Shaquille O'Neal did it in 1993, per Basketball-Reference.com.
Not only did Davis put up monster numbers, he was clutch, burying a jumper with 1.1 seconds left in regulation that put New Orleans up two before Kris Humphries sent the game to overtime.
Davis' masterpiece is just part of a recent string of dominant performances. After two rough outings to start March, the 21-year-old has averaged 32.3 points and 14.3 rebounds in the last six games. During that time, he's shooting 57.9 percent from the field and making 87.1 percent from the line on 10.3 free throw attempts per game.
On the season, Davis is averaging 21.4 points and 10.4 rebounds while shooting 52.7 percent. Davis is also blocking nearly three shots per game, and he's fourth in the league in PER behind only Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kevin Love. Again, this guy is just 21 years old.
Big things were expected from Davis as the No. 1 pick out of Kentucky, but it's kind of incredible how quickly he has turned into an elite player. Perhaps the most impressive part of Davis' breakout season is the vast improvement in his mid-range game. After shooting just 29.4 percent on 218 mid-range attempts during his rookie season, Davis has knocked down 42.2 percent of his 303 mid-range shots this season, per NBA.com's stats page.
What's scary is Davis still has room to grow. He's already one of the best players in the league, and it's not crazy to think he could be in the top three in the very near future. And at this stage, there's probably only two players in the entire league worth trading Davis for, with those two being James and Durant. One might even be able to argue the Pelicans would turn down hypothetical trades for those two players, simply because of Davis' age. If anything, it could make for some interesting debate.