Congratulations to the University of Kentucky for winning the 2012 National Championship. And congratulations to Anthony Davis for winning the Most Outstanding Player. Although this is a prestigious award, there are a number of reasons why he isn’t worth the number one draft pick.
NBAdraft.net has him number one overall. ESPN’s Chad Ford also has him as the first draft pick. During the SEC tournament, Dick Vitale was also calling him the highest rank college basketball player as well.
I believe I’m with the minority who think that Anthony Davis may not be the best player in this draft. I think the praise he has received is too much. The expectations have also become too high. I do not see Davis becoming a superstar. I see him as a borderline NBA All-Star.
As I assess Anthony Davis and his game in Kentucky, it is obvious that he has a lot of upside. He is a defensive game changer with a developing offensive game. Most of his points currently come from alley-ops, catch and dunks, and offensive rebound put backs. His game looks a lot like Marcus Camby.
Point one: Anthony Davis will be a good but not dominant offensive player in the NBA. Let’s examine the current offensive game of Davis. As previously mentioned, most of his points come from alley-ops, dunks, and tip-ins. He possesses a good shooting stroke and has already displayed the ability to hit the outside jumper.
The question is whether Davis can develop an elite level offensive game. In the NBA, to become a legitimate post presence, a player has to either develop a post-up skill, a face-up skill or both. As the NCAA season progressed, Anthony Davis has shown some signs of development, especially during the later part of the season. This was particularly evident during the Final Four game against Louisville. There was a part of the game where Anthony Davis took over with a series of post up and face up moves.
I think that the offensive part of his game will get better. I do not think his offensive game will ever be dominant. I do not think he will even utilize his improved post up and face up skills enough. Posting up is a matter of preference for players. Lebron James certainly has the skill set and made a conscious effort to get to the low block earlier in the season. As we reach the end of the NBA regular season, you see him less and less on the block. As I watch Davis during the first part of the season, the post up and face up game was close to non-existent. Even in the latter part of the season, he did not even attempt to use the skill more than several times in one game. My point is if it is not your natural decency, you probably will not use it enough. You are who you are.
Point two: I don’t think that Anthony Davis as a defensive force in the NBA is a sure thing either.
Most experts are also raving about his defensive skills given how dominant he has been in the college game. However, the history of college basketball shot blockers and how they have done in the NBA shows that this is not necessarily a transferable skill in the NBA. Hasheem Thabeet and Emeka Okafor are primary examples. Both of these big men dominated defensively in the Big East, arguably the best college basketball conference. Both big men were drafted number 2 overall in the NBA primarily for their defense. Unfortunately, both have performed well below their draft position. Additionally, I looked at the top ten NCAA shot blockers of each season from 2000 to 2010. I looked at what these shot blockers did in the NBA. I found out that Emeka Okafor was the best of the group in longevity and shot blocking. I found that Chris Kaman is the only player ever to make an All-Star game appearance. Kaman was an All-Star for his offense and not his defense.
I’m not saying Anthony Davis has no chance of becoming a defensive force in the NBA. History is not on his side however.
Point three: If Anthony Davis turns into a Marcus Camby with a slightly better offensive game, I do not think a consensus number 1 pick label is justified.
I personally think that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is the best player in this draft, one full of very good players. I don’t think that Anthony Davis will be able to create significant separation from a number of players in this draft to be able justify a consensus number 1 pick label.
Anthony Davis will be a very good player in the NBA. His name deserves to be called in the first five picks of the 2012 NBA Draft. He just does not deserve to be the runaway number 1 overall pick as most experts are labeling him.