RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Anthony DavisPosted by EJacoby on June 28th, 2012
The 2012 NBA Draft is scheduled for tonight in New Jersey. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll work backwards, starting with players who are projected near the end of the first round before getting into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.
Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.
Player Name: Anthony Davis
Height/Weight: 6’11” / 220 lbs.
NBA Position: Power Forward
Projected Draft Range: #1 Overall Pick
Overview: Believe it or not, Anthony Davis was not even on the radar as an elite prospect in his high school class three years ago. But that was before he grew eight inches in one summer, retained some of his guard skills, and developed elite shot-blocking fundamentals. The rest is history, as we all know his story as the #1 recruit in his class who produced immediately in college. In his one season at Kentucky, Davis led his team to a National Championship as Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament while winning the AP, Naismith, and Wooden National Player of the Year awards. He averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and an NCAA-best 4.7 blocks per game on 62.3% shooting as an 18-year-old freshman. While considered a defense-first asset, Davis also led the SEC in field goal percentage, offensive rating, and free throws made. At nearly 6’11″ in shoes with a 7’5.5″ wingspan, great agility, incredible discipline, and a high basketball IQ, Davis is one of the best shot-blocking prospects the NBA has ever seen. He’s very wiry and must add strength to avoid getting pushed around in the paint at the next level, but he’s such a good athlete that he makes up for any lost ground by swatting away everything near the basket. On offense he can face up and shows a decent jump shot with range or drives by defenders to the cup. He can also play with his back to the basket where he’s an efficient scorer, rarely turning the ball over and drawing fouls at a high rate. But he’s best at cutting to the paint for open looks and lobs at the rim, where he finishes alley-oops with perfect timing and explosion. He’s also a beast in transition with his speed and versatile skills for his size. He shoots over 70% from the free throw line, shows great work ethic, and is an intense leader. What can’t Davis do? He’s still a young kid who’s very raw offensively and needs to add strength. But it’s doubtful he becomes anything but a game-changing NBA force that a franchise can build around.
Will Translate to the NBA: Off-the-charts defensive positioning, recovery speed, and intelligence to go along with his height, length, and athleticism will make him an elite NBA shot-blocker. Davis will anchor a pro defense from day one and make his presence felt on every possession, whether helping defend high pick-and-rolls or altering tons of shots in and around the paint. He can close out on shooters well, which is key at the next level, and he even excels at blocking long jump shots. He’s a great rebounder in space and has strong box-out fundamentals. He runs the floor perfectly and will lead a charge in transition on both ends, a key skill in the fast-paced pro game. Davis also shows a nice shooting touch and great awareness of where to be on offense. His strong work ethic and basketball IQ will only help his offensive development.
Needs Work: Davis is quite thin and needs to add muscle to avoid getting bodied in the paint by grown men in the post. Though he swats everything near him, he could get pinned into poor position if he doesn’t bulk up his core and upper body. He also needs work in the half court on offense, as he’s not adept at getting his own shot in the post. He’s not currently someone you can rely on to get a bucket by giving him the ball, even when he has a mismatch against a smaller defender. While he shows perimeter skills, Davis also needs work on improving his jump shot consistency and dribble drives.
Comparison Players: Davis draws comparisons to Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, some of our generation’s best players and two of the greatest power forwards of all time. Oh, and Bob Knight once said that Davis reminds him of Bill Russell. Enough said. The fundamentals, work ethic, efficient productivity, defensive prowess, toughness, and versatility on both ends lends to these elite comparisons. However, it’s also necessary to throw in Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby as part of the comparison spectrum, as these are the kinds of players Davis may look like if he never develops his perimeter game. Nonetheless, Chandler and Camby were both selected #2 overall in their respective draft years, and an 82-game-per-year Camby or Chandler in their primes is an extremely valuable player. Davis is also unique, as he retains some guard skills from when he was 6’2″ just three years ago. His best comparison is a mixture of Garnett and Camby with elite intangibles to boot.
Best Case Scenario: Anyone concerned about Davis’ long term upside due to his raw offensive game should look no further than the 2012 National Championship game. Davis shot 1-10 from the field and scored six points – a horrific night offensively. But he was still by far the most valuable player on the floor and dominated the game in other ways, leading his team to victory. He grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked six shots, adding in five assists and three steals. He worked relentlessly on both ends of the court on every possession, doing everything his team needed for a win in the biggest game of the season. Great players find ways to change a game even when their shots aren’t falling, and Davis is that kind of player. In a best case scenario, Davis is a regular on the All-Defensive First Team while polishing his versatile offensive game. If so, he’s a long time All-Star and franchise player, even if he never averages 20 points per game.
Best NBA Fit: At this point, it’s not about fit. The New Orleans Hornets won the NBA lottery and that’s where Davis is headed. But the Hornets have also taken the necessary steps to make Davis the best fit possible. New Orleans traded away starting power forward Emeka Okafor recently along with Trevor Ariza to open up Davis’ starting spot, shed some salary to create cap space, and add another future draft pick to continue the long term franchise development. The Hornets are a perfect fit for Davis at this point, and the team just needs to find its point guard of the future. The #10 overall pick in this draft could lead to that answer.
Scout’s Take (from NBADraft.net): “Fear the brow! There is a debate over whether Davis will ultimately end up better than Blake Griffin. While he lacks the sheer power and explosiveness, Davis’ shot blocking could ultimately give him the edge.”
*This post was contributed by RTC’s Evan Jacoby. He can be found on Twitter @evanJacoby.