Anthony Davis Just Had the Best First Game of an NBA Season Ever
He's been doing it pretty much the entirety of his four-year NBA career. Heck, last year he averaged 24.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.0 blocks per game, while shooting 49.3% from the field and 75.8% from the free throw line -- that is a monster line on average.
But what Davis did in his first game of the 2016-17 NBA season was something special.
Last night, on an evening absolutely chock-full of monster lines, Davis managed to stand out above the rest.
50 points and 16 boards is plenty amazing as it is, but throw in 5 assists (from your big man, no less), a whopping 7 steals, and 4 blocked shots, and you've got a truly legendary performance.
We all love achievements that revolve around (admittedly) arbitrary round numbers in sports. Double-doubles and triple-doubles are the most well-known examples of this and are part of basketball's everyday lexicon. What Davis was actually pretty darn close to pulling off was the incredibly elusive "five-by-five" performance, in which a player accumulates a total of at least five in each of the five major statistical categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.
Alas, Davis was only a swat short from joining a club with only 16 entries (six of which belong to Hakeem Olajuwon). The last person to pull this off remains Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors, who put up a line of 24 points, 11 boards, 8 assists, 5 steals, and 5 blocks in a December game last season.
Of course, being one block short of a made-up club doesn't detract from Davis' place in history with last night's line. Not one bit.
First of all, no one has ever put up a line like this.
Anthony Davis: 1st player EVER to post at least 45 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals in a game since steals were recorded in 1973-74 pic.twitter.com/xhxv9HWBre
— ESPN (@espn) October 27, 2016
And that's without even considering the four blocks.
Also, it was only the fifth time in NBA history that a player has ever put up 50 points in his first game of the season. And that feat put Davis among some elite, Hall of Fame company:
Here's the list of players to score at least 50 points in a season opener pic.twitter.com/gmQjr3Dnne
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 27, 2016
If you combine the stuffed stat sheet with that prestigious opening night scoring accomplishment, his line essentially stands as the best overall statistical performance of any player ever on an opening night, according to Basketball-Reference.com's Game Score (a rough measure of a player's productivity for a single game):
By that measure, it's also the second best game of Davis' five-year career (which is really saying something with some of the monstrous stat lines he's already dropped at 23 years of age):
And for the fantasy hoops players, know that Davis' 95.7 FanDuel points were the most in the site's history. Davis actually broke his own record of 89 fantasy points, which came in that February 21st game last season. Davis also owns the fourth-best performance in FanDuel history, too, giving him three of the four best performances by FanDuel points ever.
The one painful caveat to Davis' historic night is that it comes in a 107-102 loss to the Denver Nuggets. He may be well on his way to becoming a legendary player in this league, but his team hasn't lived up to his greatness just yet.
Since New Orleans drafted Davis in 2012, they've had a 136-193 record (.413 winning percentage) and only one short playoff appearance to speak of. Our algorithms don't like them to do much better this year either, as they currently stand as the 25th-ranked team in our NBA Team Power Rankings.
At least Pelicans fans are into their fifth year of cheering on performances like this one from their franchise player.