NEW ORLEANS — The survey of general managers published by NBA.com ahead of every season has come to serve as the closest thing pro basketball has to a Michelin Guide. Each year, the league’s taste makers — or, as is rumored, their assistants — essentially anoint what’s hot and what’s not, and around this time in 2015, Anthony Davis was decidedly en vogue.
In his first game since last March, when he was shut down with a month left to play to undergo a left knee procedure, Davis turned in a masterpiece: 50 points (17-for-34 from the field, 16-for-17 from the free throw line), 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 7 steals and 4 blocks.
With it, he becomes only the fourth player in NBA history to score 50 points or more in a season opener. You might have heard of the other three: Michael Jordan (twice), Wilt Chamberlain and Elvin Baylor.
“He’s a hell of a player,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said of Davis. “He’s one of the best players in the league. It doesn’t surprise me that he has the night like he had. It’s not like this is the first time he’s ever done it.”
No, but it’s only the second time Davis has scored 50 or more, the first being a 59-point, 20-rebound stunner last season in Detroit.
This time, the celebration — if there was one — was muted. After the game, Davis sat slumped in his chair at his locker and lamented that his big night came in the midst of 107-102 loss at home to the Denver Nuggets.
“It would have been more satisfying if we would have won,” he said. “The way I played, I’m gonna have to … probably not 50 every night, but try to get somewhere along those lines every game to give ourselves a chance to win. That’s the bottom line. We just got to go, keep finding guys and trust those guys that they’re going to make shots.”