Happy Birthday, Anthony Davis: You're the Best NBA Player Ever By Age 22

Anthony Davis may be the best 22-year-old basketball player of all time. No, really.

Anthony Davis turns 22 today, and he's already piled up 3,558 points, 1,740 rebounds, 240 steals, and 450 blocks in just 6,090 minutes played. That seems pretty impressive for a guy who’s only been able to buy a beer for a year now. How does he stack up historically?

To measure this, I used's Player Season Finder and looked at the players (I'll give you the top 25) with the most win shares by the age of 22. Now, this isn’t perfect, as it doesn’t restrict it to the exact birthday of each player –- the data is technically through each player’s 21-year-old season. For example, LeBron James' birthday is December 30th, but his numbers in the following table represents win shares accumulated through the 2005-2006 season, although he turned 21 just a couple months into it. Don’t worry, the numbers will still work for my point. Which is...

Anthony Davis is the best player by his 22nd birthday in the history of the NBA.

PlayerGames PlayedWin SharesWin Shares per 48 Minutes
LeBron James23835.60.173
Anthony Davis18427.60.218
Shaquille O'Neal16227.40.209
Kevin Durant23626.30.142
Dwight Howard24625.60.141
Tracy McGrady26924.10.147
Kobe Bryant26623.90.151
Chris Bosh22622.80.132
Adrian Dantley15622.00.183
Kevin Garnett23921.20.120
Luol Deng22120.80.136
Carmelo Anthony23720.40.114
Andre Drummond20419.70.164
Chris Paul14219.20.178
Tony Parker23419.00.120
Andris Biedrins25618.80.155
John Drew15517.70.183
Magic Johnson11416.90.195
Andrei Kirilenko16216.50.182
Kyrie Irving18116.00.126
Andrew Bynum21314.60.153
Stephon Marbury19814.30.094
Michael Jordan8214.00.213
Brook Lopez16413.70.119
Elton Brand15513.60.111
Greg Monroe14613.60.151

LeBron is the only player to have more win shares by that time mark than Davis, and he did it in a one-and-a-half more seasons. As shown by Davis’ win shares per 48 (highest even over Jordan's crazy mark of 0.213 in his lone pre-22 season), he would’ve easily had the most win shares ever by his 22nd birthday if it wasn’t for that pesky NCAA one-and-done rule.

It’s hard to find the correct superlatives to properly describe what Davis has done during his short time in the NBA. The other players on that list are definitely Hall of Famers, so that seems inevitable for Davis, short of something odd or unfortunate happening.

The question now isn’t whether he’s going to be a Hall of Famer or when he’ll take over the crown of "Best Player in the World" -– if he isn’t already wearing it –- but it’s where he’ll fall in the pantheon of greatest players ever. That’s obviously a little ahead of ourselves –- I mean, the guy is only 22 today and his career will likely go for another decade at least –- but it’s the trajectory he’s currently on and something that should be noticed.

I’m sure there were times when Michael Jordan was ending his career where people wondered if the NBA had peaked. How can you get better –- or even just match -– than watching MJ win six titles?

Then LeBron came into the league. Then Kevin Durant. And now Anthony Davis.

Will any of those guys ever pass Jordan for the best player ever? That’s certainly going to be a hot topic over the next decade. The great part is that we actually have players who make it a conversation.

So, happy birthday Anthony Davis. You’ve had an incredible career so far and we’re lucky that it’s only beginning.