OK, so maybe that was a little harsh. Anthony Davis might not be an NBA bust, but he won’t have nearly the impact that so many analysts, GMs, coaches, former players, scouts, media members, fans, and even non-fans think he will be.
Draft experts say he is the best player that will come into the NBA in years. He’s a lock at a number one pick for the New Orleans Hornets — or whatever they will be called next year, maybe the New Orleans Unibrows?
Before I get too far into this diagnosis, I must first admit two key details about myself. First, I live in Charlotte and was bummed when the Bobcats did not get the first pick. If they did, I probably would be writing a blog post about how Anthony Davis will be a Hall of Famer. Second, I graduated from Indiana University. The IU vs. UK games this year — in which I was at the Sweet 16 one — were two of the best basketball games I have ever seen. I laughed when Davis got into foul trouble and could not seem to manage Cody Zeller — a player that is a great in the NCAA, but won’t have too much of an impact in the pros.
And this brings me to my first point.
1) Anthony Davis is a great defender. The NBA doesn’t care about defense.
Anthony Davis averaged 10.4 rebounds per game and 4.7 blocks per game. Those are some pretty incredible numbers. But, he averaged this playing against college players — mostly players in the SEC, a league that is filled with second-tier athletes because all their good basketball players are now wide receivers and tight ends playing in football national championships year after year.
Davis might be able to rebound and block some shots in the NBA, but not enough to pull the Hornets from the bottom of the league into a serious championship contender. The Hall of Fame is filled with offensive players who found a way to get open shots. These players — Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony, etc. — will have no problem with Anthony Davis guarding them. Do you actually think Anthony Davis is going to be able to stop Blake Griffin driving the lane? Davis wasn’t able to stop Cody Zeller, an actual stick figure when compared to guys like Griffin and Kevin Love. Sure, Zeller had pretty bad games against UK, but since Davis was focused on Zeller the little IU guys were draining 3-pointers all game long. This will happen in the NBA over and over again. And when they do drive, Davis will resort to fouling. Which brings me to number two.
2) Anthony Davis gets in quick foul trouble when playing against good opponents.
When Davis gets into early foul trouble, he no longer plays his game of basketball. Luckily for Kentucky and John Calipari, they were able to pull him from most of these games — he only played 20 to 30 minutes in 11 games due to early foul trouble. Tom Crean knew that Davis likes to slap wrists and he got his players to take it straight to him almost every time down the court. You think NBA players won’t do the same?
Anthony Davis was on the Dan Patrick Show this morning and told Dan that he was most looking forward to playing against Kobe Bryant. He said he would be “coming for Kobe.” Wow. Those are some huge cojones. Anyone want to bet that Kobe scores 40 points and Davis fouls out the first time the Lakers play the Hornets next season? It’s not like the Hornets have anyone else who can guard Kobe. Which brings me to point number three.
3) Anthony Davis was on one of the best NCAA teams in the history of college basketball.
Christian Laettner, Tyler Hansbrough, Juan Dixon, Mateen Cleaves, Steve Alford. These guys were all great college players on great college teams who all won championships. They all made the NBA, but never had that much of an impact (the jury is still out on Hansbrough). All these guys, including Anthony Davis, made their incredible teams even better. But, when they went to struggling teams and were matched up against NBA All-Stars, they were no longer the BMOC (Big Men On Campus). Can Anthony Davis take a team that had a .318 win percentage to the playoffs? Can Anthony Davis really make a team that averaged 89.6 points-per-game a dominating force in the West? He will surely up their rebounds and blocks as the Hornets only averaged 15.5 RPG and 4.8 BPG this past season. At least that is a given.
In conclusion, I might just be bitter because the Bobcats do not get a chance at Anthony Davis and will be stuck choosing Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — all great players, but not franchise-changing players.
And let’s be honest, no one can predict the future when it comes to the NBA Draft. It’s not like LeBron James, Yao Ming, Dwight Howard, or Derrick Rose — all great first picks — have won an NBA Championship. And that’s what this is really about.
Below are some stats for each game Anthony Davis played for Kentucky in the 2011-12 season.
Click chart to open in full screen