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The 30 PER Club: Is Anthony Davis Back?

I’ve talked about the 30 PER club a few times in previous articles. Remember PER it?s adjusted for league average that year, so it is a comparison relative to how dominant you were in your era per possession.  For all the crap PER gets, you undeniably have to have an all-time great season to have a 30+ PER season. There are no bums on this list. It?s only happened 29 times by 13 players ever.. You don?t fake your way into this club without doing amazing things on the court and having an all-time great season.

30 PER Club
Nikola Joki?32.852021-22LeBron James4
Wilt Chamberlain*32.081961-62Michael Jordan*4
G. Antetokounmpo32.052021-22G. Antetokounmpo3
G. Antetokounmpo31.862019-20Shaquille O?Neal*3
Wilt Chamberlain*31.821962-63Wilt Chamberlain*3
Michael Jordan*31.711987-88Nikola Jokic2
LeBron James31.672008-09Anthony Davis2
Wilt Chamberlain*31.631963-64Joel Embiid2
Michael Jordan*31.631990-91Stephen Curry1
LeBron James31.592012-13David Robinson*1
Stephen Curry31.462015-16Dwyane Wade1
Nikola Joki?31.282020-21James Harden1
Michael Jordan*31.181989-90Russell Westbrook1
Joel Embiid31.162021-22
Michael Jordan*31.141988-89
LeBron James31.12009-10
G. Antetokounmpo30.892018-19
Anthony Davis30.812014-15
LeBron James30.742011-12
David Robinson*30.661993-94
Shaquille O?Neal*30.651999-00
Russell Westbrook30.632016-17
James Harden30.572018-19
Shaquille O?Neal*30.551998-99
Dwyane Wade30.362008-09
Tracy McGrady*30.272002-03
Anthony Davis30.262018-19
Joel Embiid30.262020-21
Shaquille O?Neal*30.232000-01

Anthony Davis has had a roller-coaster career peaking with some of the highest of high seasons statistically. Unlike most of the other All Time greats who have had multiple 30 PER seasons there has been little consistency throughout Davis’s career. He entered the 30 PER club at an age far younger than anyone else at only 21 years old, which still remains his peak PER season ever. Some of these guys were still in college at that age, not having the best statistical season in the NBA. He wouldn’t post his second 30 PER season until 4 years later at 25.

A. DavisageGamesMinutesPER

This is quite unusual progression among stars. Usually, if a player can reach a 30 PER season it’s between ages 24-28, and if they have multiple ones they are likely consecutive. They also tend to be closer to that back-end 28 age curve. Peaking at age 21 or having a 30 PER season that young hasn’t happened for anyone else. Jordan at 24 years old is the next youngest age to post one.

When Davis entered the club at 21 years old I thought he might have 5+ years at that level. Unfortunately what has followed is ups and downs usually accompanied by injuries that seem to derail seasons at a time. After being injured and only playing 36 and 40 games and posting a PER in the low 20s, I was starting to question if he could play at that kind of level again nearing age 30.

Current Player Efficiency Rankings

The NBA has just passed the quarter season marks and these are the rankings

1Luka Don?i?23DAL1971031.30.605
2Nikola Joki?27DEN1857131.30.706
3Anthony Davis29LAL1861529.90.635
4Joel Embiid28PHI1448928.90.623
5Giannis Antetokounmpo28MIL1755828.80.579
6Stephen Curry34GSW2069428.40.682
7Shai Gilgeous-Alexander24OKC20716280.613
8Jayson Tatum24BOS2177027.50.635
9Kevin Durant34BRK23844270.665
10Ja Morant23MEM1859424.80.565

This might be the last year he has a chance to have a season like this. Lebron is currently on 27th but most of that is because his shooting is down. He should have a chance to get that up and have a more respectable rest of the season. Last year granted he was playing a lot of Center, but he was 4th in the NBA in PER. He’s going in the wrong direction age wise, over and down the hill, but I still think he’s going to be better the rest of the season than he has been.

I think the way Davis is playing the Lakers need to rethink trading Westbrook and using the two future 1st round picks. My stance previously was if AD was going to be a 22 or 23 PER guy like the last two seasons the Lakers weren’t going anywhere regardless. If he can play at this level which equates to a top 5 player, I think that changes the equation a lot. Certainly, it comes with risk with his health, but this is it and I think the Lakers need to go for it the way he’s playing. This is why they made the trade in the first place. He plays like this they are one of the best duo’s in the league and reminiscent of the versions that won the championship essentially 2 years ago.

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