What better player to kick off our "Prospect Profile" series than the 2012 NBA Draft's consensus number one overall pick? As we noted earlier today, Anthony Davis was named AP Player of the Year. While the Kentucky big man has not yet officially declared for the draft, it's hard to imagine his draft stock getting any higher. Davis leads the Wildcats into the Final Four tomorrow against Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals.
Labeling Davis as "long" is almost misleading. Seemingly every draft prospect with size gets that label these days. Davis defines long. He is 6-foot-10, but he has a 7-foot-6 wingspan. Davis just turned 19, and in only his freshman year at Kentucky, has averaged 4.6 blocks-per-game. That is not a typo. In addition to his length, Davis is incredibly athletic and agile for someone his height. He can cover ground quickly and once he gets there, he is a quick (and excellent) leaper who has showed good shot-blocking instincts. For the same reasons, Davis excels as a rebounder as well. Defensively, he is a game-changing talent.
There is plenty to get excited about with Davis on the offensive end too. His athleticism and length makes him an ideal target for entry passes or alley oops and most importantly, he is very coordinated. Davis was a 6-foot-3 guard at age 16, and the early development of those skills is evident. Davis has a good looking shot and can hit from three. His handle and passing are light years ahead of what you would expect from someone who averages nearly 5 blocks-per-game. He is truly a unique talent.
Davis has drawn comparisons to Marcus Camby, which is understable given his propensity for blocking shots. But as Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer notes, some people, including Davis, can see him developing into a shot blocking version of Kevin Durant. Are you starting to understand why there is little debate as to who will go number one overall? Here is what Davis said regarding the Durant comparisons:
"He plays how I play – go in the post, shoot the ball, dribble. I love the way he plays: Not afraid of anything and takes on all challenges. That’s the mark of a great player.”
Former NBAer and Kentucky star Jamal Mashburn, who has gotten a close look at Davis calling Wildcats' games on the radio, had the following to say:
“The way he shoots, the way he passes – he throws alley-oops. You don’t teach that. The NBA game has really changed. You only have one dominant center (Dwight Howard). You see more of the Kevin Garnetts and Dirk Nowitzkis dominate the game. A guy like Anthony Davis fits that mold.”
So what exactly are Davis' weaknesses? There aren't many. If he truly wants to be more than just an interior presence in the NBA as the Durant comparisons suggest, he will obviously have to continue to develop his perimeter game and jumper. His post game could use some polish as well, as his overwhelming athleticism masks some of his deficiencies in the college game. Without those two things, it will be tough for him to be a go-to type scorer at the next level. But with his dominance on defense, that would hardly stop him from being an elite player.
The knock on Davis is his size. He is listed at 220 pounds and at 6-foot-10, that is rail thin. He will have to bulk up to bang with NBA big men but his frame seems big enough to do so. The question is, if he does so, will he be less able to play on the perimeter? Finding that balance between ideal size and style of play is the big question for Davis heading towards June's draft. And it may be the only one.