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Asking the Tough Questions: Does Anthony Davis Play Better With a Headband?

Jon Nathan Raby



AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo

I was a little nervous choosing this topic as my first article on this website. I was nervous because the writers who have been assembled to write for Locked On Pelicans are smart and analytical, and when they write articles that are smart and analytical they’ll be known as the smart and analytical writers and I’ll be known as that guy who wrote about headbands.

This article is about headbands.

Specifically, this is an analytical article about headbands. More specifically, this is an analytical article about Anthony Davis’s headband. There have been several storylines concerning the Pelicans in this young season, including Davis’s injury in last night’s game against the Trailblazers. But now that the MRI revealed no structural damage, I can focus on one of the things I’ve been most interested in: the play of Headband-Wearing Anthony Davis this season.

Before you laugh this off as a joke piece, keep in mind that there have been important storylines focused on headbands in the past. The most important one concerns LeBron James, who wore a headband every game of his career until a March night in Dallas in 2015. Since then, he has been sans headband, and perhaps because he is the most discussed player in the NBA, his forehead exposure became a big deal.

On NBA Media Day before the season started, there were many interesting things happening at the Pelicans Media Day. There were new players to meet and new optimism to enjoy. Most importantly, Anthony Davis revealed that he started wearing a headband, and it generated attention.

But does the headband make a difference? To answer that question, I have collected the career numbers of Anthony Davis before this season and will compare them to his statlines since donning a headband. You may claim that three games in the 2017-18 season (I’m not including his five minutes last night) is not enough data to compare to hundreds of games from previous seasons, and I will concede that point. However, you must agree to concede the point that this is a ridiculous premise for an article anyway, and my being painfully aware of that invalidates any criticism you may have. Deal?

I originally intended to focus on both Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis, as they were the two Pelicans players who had not worn headbands last year and wore them this year (DeMarcus Cousins and Dante Cunningham wore headbands last year as well as this year; Ian Clark wore headbands intermittently last year). However, on Sunday against the Lakers, Jrue Holiday came out with his old hairstyle and, most importantly, no headband to be seen. Perhaps he thought he would play better without one, or maybe he just changed it on a whim. In addition, analyzing Jrue’s play this early in the season is like walking into a minefield due to the large contract he signed this offseason. Therefore, he is out of this discussion.

So let’s focus on Davis, the star of the Pelicans. In the 330 games Davis has played without a headband, here are his career numbers:

335 22.3 10.2 1.8 1.3 2.4 51.3%


And because I’m starting to feel guilty about rudely dismissing your sample size criticisms, here are his stats from the first three games of the 2016-2017 season, also without headband:

3 37.6 12.3 2.7 2.3 3.0 50%


And here are the first three games of Headband Anthony Davis:

3 31.7 17.3 2.7 1.7 1.7 53.2%


So what does this all tell us? It tells us that a headband might not have much effect on a player’s game or skillset. Shocking, I know. But what the stats don’t tell us is the confidence and aggressiveness that Davis played with in the first three games of this season. He attacked the basket more and crashed the glass. Whether that confidence is attributed to starting the season with one of the best bigs in the league, or a recognized sense of urgency for this incredibly important season, is anyone’s guess. But if you want to know what my guess is? My guess is the headband has magical powers.

Unless his injury is more serious than we thought. Then he should burn the headband.

Jon Nathan Raby, from New Orleans, is the creator of The Footbawl Blog, a satirical and irreverent take on the NFL. His work has also been seen in The Postgame and the Yahoo Sports Contributor Network.

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