Editor's Note: The 2012 NBA Draft is just around the corner, and that means it's time to start looking at this year's prospects. We've enlisted the help of a couple of our community's top draftnicks to break down as many prospects as possible from this year's class, whether they're high-lottery picks, potential first-round sliders or sleepers that could make an impact on a team from the second round. Today: Kentucky center Anthony Davis, by qthaballa.
PREVIOUSLY: Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond.Team: Kentucky Wildcats
Expected Draft position: Consensus No. 1.
College Career Recap: Anthony Davis came into his freshman season with some already projecting him as possibly being a No. 1 pick overall. Davis then went on to shatter all expectations and then some. In addition to setting a couple blocks records (SEC single-season & NCAA freshman blocks), he finished the season as National Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, leading his team to a NCAA championship.
Freshman season stats: 32 MPG/ 14.2PPG/ 10.4 RPG/ 1.3 APG/ 1.4 SPG/ 4.7BPG/ 62.3 FG%/ 15.03pt%/ 70.9FT%
Best Attributes: Before watching him play, I dismissed him as a sort of JaVale McGee clone, but that couldn't have been further from the truth. We can begin with the general floor IQ. Watching Davis, I was in awe of the ease in which he excelled where many big men typically struggle -- he is phenomenal at pick-and-roll help and recovery, closing out on shooters, moving his feet to stay with wings, cutting off passing lanes by keeping his arms up and contesting shots without leaving his feet. That IQ, combined with freakish athletic ability and a ridiculous 7'6'' wingspan, means he has the potential to be one of the greatest rim-protectors of all time. It's not just that he has the physical ability to block shots, it's that he also has the court sense to always know where to be in addition to that. He's no slouch defending the perimeter either, possessing quick feet and good hands that make him able to guard practically any position in college.
Davis is also hyper-efficient, posting the fifth-best true-shooting percentage in all of college basketball. Davis did most his damage off-ball with clean-ups, transition buckets and ally-oops that you can pretty much throw to the moon and he'd catch. That said, he also still showed some ability to be effective in pick and pop situations. His shooting form is sound and his solid percentages are promising signs that show he can easily transform into a reliable shooter, if he isn't already).
Davis is also a good ball-handler for his size thanks to a growth spurt between his junior and senior years in high school that saw him go from 6'3'' to 6'10''. Finally, he doesn't turn the ball over (just one per game) or foul much (two per game), even though he is challenging almost every shot.
Biggest Weakness: Strength. This is the one glaring hole in his game and happens to be one that can be corrected with hard work and some long days in the weight room. It is a big concern early, though, because Davis will have a tough time holding his ground in the paint on a day-to-day basis, which may lead to frequent foul trouble until he gets his weight up. He does have the ability to score from the inside, but his post game is also far from refined and he sometimes rushes shots.
Why he'd fit in D.C.: Davis falls in line perfectly with two defining factors of this Wizards team going forward: defense and transition scoring. Defensively, he'd immediately anchor a unit that buckled down and started to improve after the JaVale McGee/Nick Young trades. I think would propel the team into the upper half of the league in that regard, at the very least. Kevin Seraphin did a good job blocking some shots, but Davis would give the team a legit rim protector.
In transition, Davis runs the floor very well, and I wouldn't want to see a John Wall-Jan Vesely-Davis fastbreak coming at me. He can also fit with any style of player next to him. With Nene or Seraphin, he can play at the elbow and be a pick and pop guy. However, he can go down to the paint and use his speed and athleticism to finish, face up bigger defenders or can roam the baseline and finish off feeds from Wall.
He can help in two other areas as well. Let's not forget the team's very real weakness: rebounding. Davis averaged 10 per game and has the athleticism and court sense to contribute here even before he gets stronger. He can clean up the rebounds above the rim while guys like Seraphin, Nene and Trevor Booker box out below. Also, passing is another underrated aspect of his game. He isn't great by any means, but he isn't selfish either. Imagine the interior passing between him and any combination of Nene, Vesely, Seraphin or Booker. Also, every second counts on the break, and Davis can make passes to help ignite it like other bigs can't because of his vision and his ability to handle the ball himself.
Why he might not: .........
Verdict: He's the clear-cut best player in the draft and his potential is so high it's almost impossible to project him. At worst, he's a better Marcus Camby. At best, he could be as brilliant as Tim Duncan. I see absolutely no bust potential. He's already one of the best defensive power forwards in the league the moment he slips on his draft cap.
On May 30th, we should all brow our heads and pray