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Saturday, September 28th, 2013 at 12:00 pm  |  69 responses

Top 50: Anthony Davis, no. 41

The big man has the tools to be one of the most versatile post players in the L.

by Danny Hazan / @DeeHaze24

I was present at ATTACK Athletics in Chicago and the Fieldhouse in Merrillville, IN, in the Spring of 2010 because of the buzz surrounding this 6-10 lanky, athletic kid who could supposedly do just about everything on the court.

It took him about four or five trips up and down the court to make me a believer.

Anthony Davis’ story about his meteoric rise from no-namer with an offer from Cleveland State to the most coveted high school player in the country, NCAA National Player of the Year and Champion as a true freshman—and subsequently becoming the No. 1 overall draft pick to the Pelicans the ensuing Draft has been well-documented.

Now checking in at No. 41 on the SLAM Top 50 leading up to his second season in the League, Davis is no longer the main attraction among his peers, though the intrigue remains ever present.

Coming into the League, his shot-blocking ability as well as his general presence in the paint were better than any other amateur. His athleticism for his size allowed him to run, and get off, the floor better than most. The perimeter skills he maintained from his days as a guard prior to his fortuitous growth spurt when he was 15 and 16—including nice form and touch on his shot—could potentially make him as versatile a post player as there is in the League.

The biggest question mark with Davis coming into the NBA was his slight build and how he would hold up against the grown men—many of which hold the upcoming 40 spots in the Top 50—from the start, and his rookie year showed the hurdles he still has to climb physically.

Given the other Pelicans in the frontcourt, mainly Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith, Davis probably is the most versatile in regards to being able to guard both post positions. But how effective against each one at this stage in his career is something he still must prove.

We’d be remiss in overlooking the fact that he’s really only played at this height for just over three years, and could still be getting comfortable with his role on the court as well as the one coach Monty Williams wants him to fit.

Davis averaged 13.5 points on 52 percent shooting, a hair over 8 boards and close to 2 blocks per game during his rookie season, in which he missed 18 games due to injury. Those are encouraging numbers considering he won’t turn 21 until March, and is still developing physically.

Assuming everyone stays healthy this season, it’s as safe a bet as any that Davis will make another stride toward improvement—numbers-wise and in terms of his presence on the court—as there won’t be much pressure on him to produce offensively.

How Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Austin Rivers can play off each other remains to be seen, but as long as Davis is on the court with any combination of the guards, he will get plenty of opportunities to score just by running with them in transition or making himself available when one of them drives and engages a couple defenders in the half-court.

Davis might not be at the point of being a post who the Pelicans can jam the ball into on the block every possession and expect him to get a bucket or make a good pass—and he may never be (true back-to-the-basket bigs have followed the same trend as CDs)—but his ability to run and beat most big guys down the court every possession will aid the Pelicans’ cause. It’s also safe to assume he’s been polishing his 15-17 footer, and if he can knock that in with consistency off pick and pops or catch-and-shoots, it will make him even more dangerous.

Entering his second season, it’s hard to define Davis’ position on the court as he is part of the wave of hybrid players in the League. The fact he can do a bunch of things well could be negated if he can’t do one thing real well night-in and night-out.  The bar is set higher for a No. 1 overall pick.

The obvious aspect of the game where he’s most likely to show that consistency earliest is on defense. With a year under his belt, perhaps the game will have slowed down for him and he will be more comfortable with how he can excel on the defensive end as he did during his one year in college. Make no mistake, his potential as a game-changing defender, shot-blocker and rebounder is what had college coaches in the summer of 2010, and NBA front office personnel in 2012, salivating.

Davis is just one of many who boast all the attributes that define players with high-ceilings and labeled with ‘star potential.’ When he translates that potential into production on a consistent basis he will begin to re-emerge from the rest of the pack and once again become one of the main attractions in a league stocked with the world’s best players.


Where should Anthony Davis rank in the SLAM Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2013
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Monta Ellis Mavs SG 5
49 Luol Deng Bulls SF 10
48 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 14
47 Greg Monroe Pistons PF 12
46 Kawhi Leonard Spurs SF 9
45 Mike Conley Grizzlies PG 13
44 Al Jefferson Bobcats C 9
43 David Lee Warriors PF 11
42 Jrue Holiday Pelicans PG 12
41 Anthony Davis Pelicans PF 10

Rankings are based on expected contribution in ’13-14—to players’ team, the League and the game.

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  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    This will be a top 30 player by the end of the season.

  • Dundler

    I have faith in Davis. If you watched him in final days in college vs early days in NBA, there was already a massive improvement. Guy is a workhorse that wants to be better. Felt like he missed more than 18 games last year, but those are quality numbers for a rook. Spesh the 8 boards and 52%, main reason to watch Pelicans (their logo should have a unibrow)

  • shockexchange

    People need to keep in mind that the rankings are based on projections only. The hype is there, Davis is surrounded by talent and now all he has to do is go out in perform. But keep in mind, this dog ain’t never caught rabbit yet.

  • spit hot fiyah

    if he stays healthy i think he should definitely end up higher. the biggest ? to me is how well will he be able to play with a new back court featuring two new guys that like to have the ball in their hands A LOT. if the team can find chemistry though i think he makes the big leap in his second year

  • BugEyes

    I don’t like these potential outlook top 50. its all based off potential, and leaves the solid old players in the latter #’s. yes Anthony Davis has the potential to be a top 20 player but that don’t mean he will. love the kid but you can’t tell me he is better than drew and Conley AMD big al

  • Dundler

    True in ref to backcourt. But then again who else do they really have in front court? (Although I am massive Jeff Withey fan :D ) but I think he’ll get his touches/oppotunities.

  • spit hot fiyah

    that’s what makes for some great debating. if it is all about NOW, we can just lay out the numbers and dissect last season. Now we actually have to look forward and reason as to why player x will have a better year than player y. so yes it’s based on potential which can be very hard to predict, but that is what makes it fun imo.

  • Dundler

    Its a projection on the year though, and its pretty clear Davis will be far more valuable on the court than Jefferson

  • spit hot fiyah

    yeah he doesn’t have to compete for touches with any other inside players (withey was a great pick up btw) but he will need the ball. it’s on the guards to it to him. what is good for davis though is that he seems somewhat like a guy that doesn’t need a whole lot of plays drawn up for him in order to make things happen.

    his kentucky stint was great proof of that i think, he probably wasn’t even top 3 on that team fg attempts.

  • Dundler

    Yeah great point, he get go grab an offensive rebound or has a lot going off of the pick and roll with his lob ability and that extra shooting range (which is huge for him).
    I’m glad I’ve found another Withey fan

  • BugEyes

    Yea its fun but it gets me ruffled up sometimes because I forget it’s based off the upcoming season lol

  • BugEyes

    True I keep forgetting about the projection, but I feel for the vets who put in time not getting Amy love

  • shockexchange

    fiyah, you hit the nail on the head – Pelicans back court likes to have the ball in its hands. Eric Gordon wants to prove he is one the best 2Gs in the L, so he’ll be chucking. Davis has not spent a lot of time playing with his back to the basket, so there’s a learning curve there. Lastly, there is a dearth of athletic, skilled big men in college so Davis’ dominance at Kentucky was a bit overstated.

    A long-winded way of saying, “til that dog catches a rabbit … that dog don’t hunt.”

  • Dundler

    I get you for some vets. For some, like Pau, its easy to forget how good they are when there’s been a gap to injury or if they’ve just been doing the same thing for so long. It depends a lot on the situation as well, as discussed the other day, Jefferson will put up a load of numbers, but its for the Bobcats so its diluted a bit.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    So you didn’t watch him last season…..

  • BugEyes

    It would of been really interesting to see nerlens stay in n.o
    and play with Davis. tyreke and Eric Gordon. that would of been so much watch stuff

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    He was freakig awesome last season tho….

  • BugEyes

    They were never on tv lol and he was injured alot to bit I seen him in the USA red vs blue tryouts and he has a great looking 16 ft jumper AMD rebounds well at his position. he just looks small out thete with guys like cousins and Drummond.

  • RKJ92

    Anthony Davis’s PER is already 20 in his rookie season that’s scary.. I would love to see how his production rises to his growth as a player. Once he adds another 15-20lbs, and continues to work on his inside out game he should be solid.

  • spit hot fiyah

    withey has great timing and length. i don’t think that he will become a double digit scorer or rebounder, but has a great chance of becoming a shot blocking specialist. rich man’s kelvin cato.

  • spit hot fiyah

    the little i watched, he was very good. i expect a big jump.

  • Dundler

    I like him as a back up. Can come in a give you quality minutes. No jumper really, but reliable free throw shooter, high IQ and above average ability to finish through contact (without mentioning his defence)

  • Dundler

    YEAH BUT HE’S NEVER WON AN MVP OR GONE TO THE CONFERENCE FINALS!
    oh wait…wrong thread, my bad

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I mean he put up 13-8 with 1 steal and almost 2 blocks …..

    And he only played 28 minutes a game………

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    And Damian Lillard is going to be ranked ahead of Anthony Davis……..smh

  • RKJ92

    The more I think about it, the more I notice that I cannot really compare Anthony Davis’ ceiling, size, ability, and numbers (thus far) to any other player in the past.. I’m sure there must be someone but it isn’t coming to mind as of yet..

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    He’s a mix between Kevin Garnett and Marcus Camby far as I can surmise.

  • danpowers

    i dont like where this is going…

  • Swag

    You think Lillard is better than Monta Ellis?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Yes.

  • swagnow

    name top 5 pg in the nba

    Lebron James
    Chris Paul
    Derrick Rose
    Russell westbrook
    Steph Curry

  • swagnow

    what is the difference between Faith and Belief?

    jadix loaci jadix loaci jadix loaci

  • swagnow

    Sminn Joahnees Sminn Joahnees Sminn Joahnees

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Uhm, what are you doing gypsy, Did you just cast a spell on me?

  • Nick Holden

    You’re not alone in being a big Jeff Withey fan. Really hope he is going to do well.

  • Ben Ireland

    I see your point, but I don’t think overstated is the right word. He really did dominate, I just think the way he dominated lesser competition had many overstating his potential production EARLY. He really could be scary good in a few years though, I just think he’s more of a project than many predicted.

  • RKJ92

    Garnett’s ceiling would be better then anything Davis is capable of, and Camby is slower, no scoring prowess, plus Davis has range out to 3 (which he hasn’t shown yet) idk his skill set is just the weirdest combination lol

  • RKJ92

    LOL gypsy

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I have no idea why you think Davis has a lower ceiling then Garnett….

  • RKJ92

    do you really think that he will consecutively average 24-14-5+-2-2 with a PER of 29.4 all while playing as a defensive anchor? lol; I mean I think Anthony Davis is exceptionally talent but comparing his ceiling to one of the greatest power forwards of all time is insulting. Maybe we should wait a bit before we go that far. Garnett was for a long time right up there was Tim Duncan.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Hooooooooooold on….. How many players in history would you say even reached their ceiling? 5%? So…..it’s hardly insulting to say its conceivable that Davis turns into an All-Time great….because he could, he is actually better than Garnett was at this age anyway
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=davisan02&y1=2013&p2=garneke01&y2=1997

  • RKJ92

    I know but Garnett also came fresh out of highschool as a headcase, Davis had went to college already and is more established as a player, you also have to take into account how different the basketball programs for youth were back then till now, and ALSO that if you watch Garnett’s autobiography he hadn’t actually played basketball till grade 10 meaning he was in the NBA only 3 years after he started actually playing. Big, big difference if you ask me.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Davis is further along in his development at the same age…..he’s more disciplined……and he has more basketball playing experience………it’s not like physically they are much different. Actually Davis is even longer than Garnett was and will be able to make a full transition to Center. I mean his CEILING might even be higher. .
    .
    .
    We are talking about the guys Ceiling…..I don’t understand your argument at this point. .
    If I said LeBron has the potential to be the GOAT and you agree…..how is that any different?

  • RKJ92

    Well.. LeBron by this point has multiple Mvp awards, 2 championships, finals mvp’s, gold medals, scoring champion, with multiple seasons of over 30 PER. So we could say that NOW, but back in 2007 when he had nothing but an Mvp, we couldn’t. Potential, and ceiling are 2 different things, and LeBron hasn’t even reached his ceiling yet as every year he has gotten better. It’s logical to say Anthony Davis could be very very good 100% but Garnett good I would need to watch him play another 2 years before I make that call on his ceiling as I have only been watching Davis for 3 years (last year hs, Kentucky, and first year NBA). This could just be a case of perception, I don’t believe we are both wrong, but I do believe that we might be expecting different outcome’s from Davis. I think he will cap around 26ish PER at his ceiling, as a defensive anchor but that’s it.

  • Evan Boland

    Are you serious??

  • Swag

    but the heart of davis compared to kg
    u kno like kobes heart to lebronsd

    i dont even agree with with what i said

    i just want to see you

  • therichardkirby

    Ceiling has to do with potential. Potential may or may not be fulfilled. I hate player comparisons though so I understand your perspective. I HATED when analysts compared John Wall to Derrick Rose when JW was coming out of Kentucky.

  • JL

    So you can’t accept a player’s potential until he actually achieves it. What’s the fun in that?

  • JL

    The Pistons or Kings would have no question trading Cousins or Drummond for AD, for different reasons of course. I am worried a little about the injury prone tag though. We’ll see how he does this year. Hopefully not the perpertually injured by various injuries like Bogut is.

  • RKJ92

    No that’s not the case I just don’t see Anthony Davis being as good as Garnett. It’s personal opinion though that’s all.

  • LakeShow

    Love this guys game. Endless potential. Expect 16-10-3-1-2(pts,rebs,asts,stls,blks) from him next year.

  • LakeShow

    What?

  • LakeShow

    NOOOOOOOOOO!!!

  • LakeShow

    Naw he’s not man… Monta is the better defender and more prolific scorer. Lillard is just more steady.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    hahahahahahahahaahahahahaha Monta is one of the worst defenders of all-time. Damian Lillard just spent the summer with Gary Payton. i think it’s safe to assume, Monta Ellis is no longer a “better defender” now that Lillard has that awful defensive rookie year under his belt (which is par for the course for high usage rookie PG’s – Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Mike Conley, Deron Williams, all terrible defensively their rookie years)
    .
    And by prolific scorer you just mean Monta shoots more right? because he barely outscored Lillard on 2 more attempts a game (19.2 ppg to 19.0) (17.5FGA to 15.7), while being way less efficient.
    .

  • LakeShow

    He was built to suck playing next to B. Jennings last year.

    Next season he should be at 20ppg on 45%fg’s and 2+ steals and comparable defense to Lillard.

    ………………………………………………………………………

    As for your typical extreme claim of the day:

    “”Monta is one of the worst defenders of all-time”
    Oh Shush! Common…

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkEyUM6epV4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dFG_OcwEvg

    I’ll fix it, Monta Ellis is one of the worst defensive players in the defense era. So, in the last 15 years. He’s TERRIBLE. he would be better than Lillard if he played PG….but he’s playing next to Jose Calderon now…..so, yeah….

  • danpowers

    he is too raw offensively to be there yet imo and we still dont know if last season was just a bad stretch or if he is really not able to stay on the court for a whole season. e.g.: i wouldnt consider him a player that id like to have on my team over deng, monroe, lee, holiday or rubi … yet.

  • LakeShow

    He’s not injury prone. I know I can’t guarantee that, but I highly doubt he is. He has no track record of debilitating injury prior. He is not large like Oden and Bynum.

    He has a smooth jumper, can pass and finishes at the basket with the best of them already. He is likely to take a huge 2nd year step. He is one of the top young talents with out a doubt. IMO He may already be better than Blake Griffin by years end.

  • danpowers

    dont get me wrong, im not hating on him. i just expect him to have at least one more year to be elite/top rank material. id be glad to be wrong about that tho.

  • Harlem_World

    Fundamentally ceiling and potential are the same thing. When scouting a player and referencing how high his ceiling may be, you are making a call on his potential. Many players may not reach their ceiling (feel free to replace with potential). In this case, Anthony’s ceiling is comparable to KG’s – nobody is saying it’s anywhere close to a sure thing he will reach that level because KG is proven and driven by something from within. Will Davis have that drive? Skill set, he may actually have a higher ceiling, but I doubt he has that inner drive to win at the level of a KG (who does?) – which is arguably one of the top 5 of all time.

  • RKJ92

    Exactly how I feel, well put.

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