Published on June 23rd, 2012 | by Bryant West, Columnist0
2012 NBA Draft Prospect Stock Watch: Anthony Davis
Name: Anthony Davis
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Physicals: 6′ 10″, 220 lbs, 19 years old
NBA Position: Power Forward
Current Stats: 14.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.3 APG, 4.7 BPG, 1.4 SPG, 1.0 TPG, 63.2% FG, 70.9% FT, 15.0% 3P
We know two things about Mr. Anthony Davis. One, he’s going to be the number one pick. There is no question, absolutely none. And number two: he’s a transformative defensive player with a defensive awareness and IQ off the charts.
After that? We don’t quite know—yet.
If you have ESPN the Magazine, I highly recommend Bethlehem Shoals’ article on Davis, which appeared in the June 14th issue and can be seen with ESPN Insider here. And if you don’t get ESPN’s Magazine, go pick up the latest issue, just for this story. It’s an excellent one, and raises the excellent question—can a player with one transcendent skill change the course of an entire franchise? Can Anthony Davis, with his defensive masterwork, completely turnaround the New Orleans Hornets?
Hit the jump for the rest of Bryant’s scouting report…
My personal opinion is yes, that he will, but it won’t be overnight. Defensively, I expect the Hornets will be in the top five team next season just by adding Davis (that won’t be a huge leap, considering they were tied for seventh in opponents points per game). His defensive tenacity and intelligence can not be doubted, because not only will he instantly become the best blocker in the NBA (even better than Dwight Howard), he’s really, REALLY smart about how he goes for the ball.
There are tons of good blockers in the game who are not necessarily great defenders. Denver’s JaVale McGee is the best example—he averaged 3.14 blocks a contest last season, and yet he’s barely a passable defender. Second, while swatting your opponents shot into the fifth row may be satisfying, Davis is the king of keeping the ball in play to his teammates when he blocks a shot. To reference a stat from Bethlehem Shoals’ ESPN The Magazine article I mentioned earlier—
“Still, it’s how Davis blocks shots that has captivated scouts. Of his 186 blocks, 144 were kept in play and 103 went to his teammates — leading directly to 105 points.”
So not only is Davis blocking shots, he’s turning them into points for his teammates. Imagine if New Orleans manages to keep Eric Gordon (can’t see him leaving now) and a competent point guard point guard… New Orleans could get a fast break started every time Davis blocks a shot.
Here are the other great things about Davis—incredible length (a 8’6” wingspan and a 9’0” reach), Blake Griffin level athleticism, above average rebounding skills, an intense motor, a good free throw shot, doesn’t pick up a ton of fouls even as a die-hard defender… on and on and on.
What you’ll notice absent from the last six paragraphs is any mention of offense. That’s because he doesn’t really have any set offense yet.
He’s not like Andre Drummond, who is so raw it hurts to watch. He’s got some post moves, he’s got a decent jumper, and he’s good in transition (he better, with those hops). But right now, you can’t throw him the ball and know what to expect.
That is where the doubt in Davis’ transcendence sprouts from (that, and the fact that he weighs only 220 lbs). Can he dominate defensively? Absolutely. Will he kill himself for a rebound? Yes. Can he block transition shots like no one around? Without question.
What is in question is what type of offensive player he will become. Will he bulk up, work around in the paint and become a Kareem-type skilled in the post/sky hook big? Will he gain a significantly-above-average jumper like Kevin Garnett did? He needs to pick something, but he’s got the work ethic to develop whatever he decides.
Draft Watch: Davis would be the No. 1 pick in all but a few of the last ten years of NBA Drafts. If you added in Davis to all the NBA Drafts since 2000 (without the hindsight to know how good the players in those drafts would be), he’d be No. 1 in 2000 (Kenyon Martin went No. 1), in 2001 (Kwame Brown), 2004 (Dwight Howard), 2005 (Andrew Bogut), 2006 (Andrea Bargnani), 2008 (Derrick Rose), 2009 (Blake Griffin), 2010 (John Wall) and 2011 (Kyrie Irving). In fact, you could even make the case that he’d be the No. 1 pick in 2002 (Yao Ming) and maybe even 2007 (Greg Oden). Only time he’d FOR SURE NO QUESTIONS ASKED be the second pick was in 2003, when LeBron James went No. 1.
Conclusion: Defensively, there hasn’t been a prospect like him since… well, Bill Russell. There is so much to like in his game. How he develops offensively will decide how transcendent he becomes, but with his work ethic, I can’t expect anything but Hall-of-Fame out of him.