After much criticism in recent years, Anthony Davis is putting together a string of utterly dominant games that is historically unmatched.
The NBA has a long, long history of players and games. Even when taking into account that not all stats have been tracked since the league started — steals and blocks weren’t recorded until the early 1980s, for example — there are thousands of games each year and decades of data.
All of that makes it hard to believe — and easier to appreciate — Anthony Davis’ performance on Tuesday against Phoenix was a one-of-one in league history. Davis finished with 37 points, 21 rebounds, five steals and five blocks in one of his most dominant games ever. No player in league history has ever had that stat line or better before.
In fact, you can ease the requirements and it still hasn’t happened. No player has had 35 points, 20 rebounds, five steals and five blocks before. The closest was a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar game when he was with the Bucks in which he finished with 35 points, 21 rebounds, six blocks and four steals in a playoff game against, coincidentally, the Lakers in 1974.
Anthony Davis is one of just 13 players since '99-00 season to have a 37-point, 21-rebound game.— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) November 23, 2022
Only DeMarcus Cousins (4) has done it more than AD (3). Shaq (3), Embiid (3) and KAT (2) are the only ones to do it more than once in that span.
Wilt Chamberlain did it 290 times
Tuesday wasn’t just a one-off great performance, though. AD is amidst arguably the best stretch of games in his career. With his outing against the Suns, Davis is up to four straight games with at least 30 points and 15 rebounds.
In the modern era of basketball — or since the 3-point line was introduced — the only person with a longer streak is Giannis Antetokounmpo at five games. Nikola Jokic, Tim Duncan and Shaq are the only other players to do it four games in a row in that span.
In this four-game span, AD is averaging 35.5 points, 18.3 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 2.3 steals and is shooting 62.3% from the field. He’s the only person in league history to average those numbers over a four-game span, let alone at that level of efficiency.
Big picture, he’s now averaging the most points in his career since the 2017-18 season, the most rebounds in his career and shooting the highest field goal percentage of his career.
The Lakers and their fans have been yearning for AD to return to his absolute best. It may just be a small handful of games so far, but what Anthony Davis has been doing is not just a return to his previous best, it’s better than he’s ever been.