Top 50: Anthony Davis, no. 44

by Dave Spahn / @davespahn

I know, I know; a rookie on any list like this causes a stir. Most fans/analysts throw a hissy fit any time a freshman makes a pre-season All-American team in college. Most of the time, freshmen/rookies should be left off lists that rank the top players in their respective leagues.

But a top-50 list goes deep enough to put a rookie somewhere on the list, and the No. 1 pick of the 2012 Draft is not your ordinary rookie. I am talking, of course, about Anthony Davis.

Is there a more decorated college basketball player in the history of college hoops than Anthony Davis? He won an SEC conference championship, a National Title and an Olympic Gold medal. He received SEC Freshmen of the Year, SEC Player of the Year, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, NCAA Player of the Year and Final Four Player of the Year.

Honestly, has any other college freshman ever won every single possible award? No one in my memory has done it.

After looking at Anthony Davis’ accomplishments as a Kentucky Wildcat and looking at his ranking of No. 44 in the SLAMonline Top 50, the first thought that came to my mind was “underrated.” Watching him play a few weeks ago at the Kentucky alumni game showed how fluid his offensive game has become. He showed his fantastic scoring ability in the paint at Kentucky, but Anthony will surprise people in the NBA with how well he can shoot the basketball, especially from deep range.

He can take his man off the dribble and will usually be guarded by bulkier players, creating opportunities for Davis to drift out to the perimeter and take his man to the hoop. His weight may be an issue for some people, but no one can deny his incredible skill set for a 6-10 guy.

Defensively, there may not be a more impactful rookie in the last decade than Anthony Davis. His 186 blocks broke the record for blocked shots as a freshman in college basketball history. He blocked more shots in his rookie year at Kentucky than a majority of teams in college basketball. He impacts the game defensively by just standing near the rim, daring people to drive the lane and end up with their manhood halfway up the stands.

The bottom line: Anthony Davis is a franchise-changing player who doesn’t need the spotlight on him 24/7 like many superstars. He took the fifth-most shots on his own college team, showing his dedication to teamwork and winning over putting up stats. Get used to seeing this name in the Top 50. I predict his name around the 25 mark, maybe even higher, at this time next year.

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2012
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Greg Monroe Pistons C 8
49 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 14
48 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 13
47 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 12
46 Ricky Rubio TWolves PG 11
45 Al Jefferson Jazz PF 14
44 Anthony Davis Hornets PF 13

• Rankings are based solely on projected ’12-13 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jake Appleman, Maurice Bobb, Rodger Bohn, Brendan Bowers, Franklyn Calle, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Adam Figman, Eldon Khorshidi, Eddie Maisonet III, Ryne Nelson, Ben Osborne, Allen Powell II, Sam Rubenstein, Jonathan Santiago, Abe Schwadron, Leo Sepkowitz, Dave Spahn, Ben Taylor, Tzvi Twersky, Peter Walsh, Tracy Weissenberg, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Dave Zirin.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.