Projecting Anthony Davis in the NBA

10 Comments

Anthony Davis is everywhere. This morning I heard two different stories about him on National Public Radio. When you’re of interest to an audience who may or may not even care about sports, then you’ve pretty much peaked as a student-athlete.

Anthony Davis is the best player on the best team in college hoops. He’s 6-10 with a handle.  He dunks everything in sight. He can step out and hit a jumper. And he can matchup defensively at a number of positions. Everyone assumes two things about Davis: that he will jump to the NBA, and that he’ll be the No. 1 overall pick.

The New York Times called him one of the ten clear franchise NBA players in the past 20 years.

He is the clear No. 1 pick in a deep and talented N.B.A. draft class. He is the most dominant player in college basketball. The question is not whether Davis will be a good pro — he is going to be a perennial All-Star — but whether he will become great the way Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan were. To understand Davis’s position in the pantheon of elite players, the best comparison may be to Chris Webber. He was an abundantly talented player who never seemed quite as dominant as his talent suggested he should be.

The author goes on to explain that the comparison has little to do with skillsets, and instead focuses on each players ability to be too unselfish. Seeing that Davis takes the smallest percentage of shots when he’s on the floor in comparison to the rest of Kentucky’s 7-man rotation, maybe the author has a point. But it’s also true that Davis is simply executing the offense. Kentucky fills the floor with four players who can break their man down off the dribble. Davis’s job is to make the defense pay when they lose track of him. Considering he makes a ridiculous 67% of his 2s, he’s doing a pretty good job.

Stewart Mandel struggled to find a good comparison.

A better benchmark is probably someone like future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan. Only here’s the thing: Davis is more athletic. He’s most similar in build to the once-lanky Kevin Durant, a more dominant scorer, but Durant is not the same caliber defender.

Really, there is no apt comparison.

These comparisons are fun to make, and it’s difficult to find angles for this game that haven’t already been covered. But frankly, I’m not worried about next year. I’m not worried if Davis’s pro career rivals Tim Duncan’s.

Tonight Anthony Davis is a college basketball player, and I’m going to enjoy that while it lasts.

Michael Rogner is the founding editor of Run the Floor, and can be found on Twitter: @RunTheFloor