From Unknown to Most Wanted

I wanted to touch more on why I thought Anthony Davis would be the best choice for the number one pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

I’m not prone to hyperbole, but while watching Kentucky play against Tennessee the other week, following Anthony Davis’ 18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 steals performance, I found myself tweeting “Anthony Davis is the best defensive pro prospect since Tim Duncan in 1997.”

Immediately afterwards, I was taken aback by what my fingers had just typed onto my iPhone screen. Could this Kentucky freshman really be that great?

Well, in a word, yes. Furthermore, I think he should be a no-brainer for the top pick in the 2012 draft.

Davis’ background is interesting. As a high school junior at tiny Perspectives Charter High School in Chicago, he was a 6’ 2” guard and virtually unknown. By the end of his senior year, however, he was 6’10” and had shot up to the top of most national high school rankings. He was able to maintain much of the speed and athleticism he had as a guard and combine that with a newfound ferociousness as a shot blocker and rebounder to become a uniquely talented player.

Davis signed with John Calipari’s Kentucky program, and in his very first game he put up 23 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks in 23 minutes. The insane stat lines wouldn’t stop there, however. 15 points, 15 rebounds and 8 blocks against St. John’s. 14 points, 18 rebounds and 5 blocks against Chattanooga. 27 points, 14 rebounds and 7 blocks against Arkansas.

Through 21 games at Kentucky, Davis is averaging 13.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game on an extremely stacked squad. As impressive as those 4.6 blocks per game are, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. His ability to alter countless other shots, his cat-quick reflexes, his 7’4” wingspan and uncanny ability to be defensively clutch make him the best defensive anchor in the nation.

That 7’4″ wingspan is the same as Yao Ming’s was. Yao Ming, in case we’ve forgotten, is 7’5″ tall.

Despite this, it almost seems as if most people don’t realize how special he can be in the NBA. Perhaps because he has such a unique skillset, many don’t know how to project what type of player he will be. I’ve seen Javele McGee comparisons. That is worrisome because despite the height, athleticism and shot blocking prowess, there really is no comparison. Davis can guard out to the perimeter, has a higher basketball IQ, is a capable passer, and is a lot more team oriented.

A more adequate comparison might be Marcus Camby with better ball handling and a higher ceiling than Camby had at that age. Like Camby, Davis will most likely begin his career as a power forward until he can gain enough weight to play center, where his ability to patrol the paint will most come in handy. Also like Camby, defensive player of the year awards could very well be in his future.

The fact that Davis is this good already defensively while not even being remotely close to reaching his potential on offense should have owners, scouts, GMs and coaches all salivating. Yet, several mock drafts have him at number two behind Andre Drummond.

On the surface, that’s understandable, as Drummond possesses much of the same skillset and athleticism that a young Amar’e Stoudemire or Dwight Howard had at the same age.

My concern with Drummond, however, is that he tends to coast, while Davis plays full-throttle all the time.

Drummond also seems to not take his craft as seriously as he should at times, such as his admitting to media he didn’t know who Seton Hall center Herb Pope was, despite being slated to face off against him later that day. Drummond had 4 points that game in a losing effort while Pope went for 15 and 8. Safe to say he knows who Pope is now.

Davis’ weaknesses, mainly his lack of muscle and lack of low-post scoring prowess, can be fixed. Drummond’s lack of right positive attitude or motivation to become better, however, could be permanent.

So is Davis truly a once in a decade type player? You’d be hard-pressed to come up with another defensive-minded player who had as much obvious upside as he does. It’s important to note that while Dwight Howard was certainly a great shot blocker in high school, very few could have confidently predicted that he would end up being such a force defensively at the time.

One could make the argument for Greg Oden. Certainly, you might recall he was even getting Bill Russell comparisons at the time. A total of 82 games played since 2007 kind of killed that, though.

The more I think about it, the more I keep going back to Duncan, who hasn’t seen anyone else match his level of NBA readiness on both ends of the court as a rookie since, but strictly on the defensive end I am confident that Davis will have a similar impact.

The 2012 NBA Draft is looking like it might be the best since at least the 2008 draft, if not the historical 2003 draft. The likes of Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Jared Sullinger, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Perry Jones III are all locks for the lottery. And if the owners of the number one overall pick are smart, all those guys will be taken after Anthony Davis.

What do y’all think? Who should be the number one pick in the 2012 NBA Draft?

4 thoughts on “From Unknown to Most Wanted

  1. Depends on who gets first pick in my Opinion. I’m high on Davis. But i think a team like washington would go for Barnes. Teams like the Kings, Bobcats, New Orleans etc would be stupid to pass on Davis

    • Strictly on the defensive side, a Davis/McGee combo would be enticing. They could potentially combine for six blocks a game. But yeah, I could see them perhaps preferring a Barnes or MKG.
      I’d still draft Davis and worry about personnel later if I was the Wizards GM.

  2. I seriously hope that James Dolan sucks off David Stern and even swallows his load so the Knicks can get the number 1 pick in this year’s draft. Take one for the team, D!

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