Worth The Hype: 10 Signs That Anthony Davis Is Destined For Greatness
When you woke up this morning, turned on the television and scrolled through Twitter, you might have thought the media was yet again prematurely overhyping another player.
The subject of all the blown smoke on this occasion? Anthony Davis, whose 26 points, 17 rebounds, nine blocks and three steals during the New Orleans Pelicans home opener last night had the whole of the basketball world talking.
“Anthony Davis is the next best thing!”
“Davis is a monster, this is his year!”
“He’s a season away from being the best player in the NBA!”
As far as reactions go to just one game of out 82, the overall reaction was as exaggerated as ever. That is, it would have been, if we were talking about anyone besides Anthony Davis.
The fact of the matter is the 21-year-old star was always tipped to make a huge leap before his season debut last night, mainly because he was such a monster last season.
The 2014-15 NBA season was already touted as the year of Anthony Davis. His performance against the Orlando Magic last night just provided the exclamation point for that statement.
He is truly worth the hype, and there are aspects to his game that make that abundantly clear. Here are 10 traits of greatness that has Davis on track to be the NBA’s next great superstar:
He Improves Non-Stop
Anthony Davis has been growing toward superstar status since he was in high school, quite literally, in fact. As a junior in high school, Davis was a 6’3 guard with no offers to play college ball. As a senior, he was a 6’10 power forward that was ranked by ESPN as the No. 2 recruit in the nation.
As a freshman at Kentucky, he became a sure no. 1 overall NBA draft pick, who suddenly had incredible hands and instincts to block shots. In his sophomore NBA season, he improved his scoring average by over 7 points. Chances are, he won’t stop improving any time soon.
He’s A Winner
Despite being drafted by a bad New Orleans team in 2012, Davis has great experience playing with winners. During his only season in college, he led Kentucky to a national championship.
The following summer, he played with Kobe, LeBron, Melo and KD on the gold medal-winning USA basketball squad at the London Olympics.
This past summer, he won the basketball World Cup in Spain. As a leader, knowing what it’s like to win, matters.
The “Take Over” Switch
Durant, LeBron, Kobe… All of the great players have shown an ability to have those long stretches of weeks when they go absolutely off. Without getting ahead of ourselves, we can safely say that Davis, at least, has that ability somewhere in him.
In an interview with Complex magazine during the summer, Davis spoke of his own little stretch of 10 games in March during which he was DOM-I-NA-TING (averaging 30 points and 13 rebounds in the process).
We just had a lot of guys down. Jrue was down, Ryan [Anderson] was down, Tyreke’s knee was bothering him. We had a lot of guys down.
I was just playing and trying to take over a couple of games while they were out. So, while they were out, I just tried to take over and tried to make sure we kept the team on the right track. I was just playing basketball and having fun.
Yeah, takeover mode — he has that.
Davis is young, ridiculously athletic, has a unique skill set and, besides playing for New Orleans, has put on the jerseys of two of the most well-known basketball entities in America, Kentucky and Team USA.
His unibrow, on top of that, makes him unmistakably recognizable. Think that doesn’t matter? Just ask the star of this commercial or Davis’ bank account.
There’s a reason Davis trademarked his money maker.
He Runs The Floor
Davis is already a nightmare to play against in a half court set on the both ends of the floor, but he’s great coming up and down the court, too.
On fast breaks, his speed propels him down the court faster than his (usually) much slower defenders and him picking up a few dunks every game via that advantage has become a common site.
For a big man, that is simply exceptional and means that Davis is great in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and transition.
Love Of The Game
Like most greats, Davis has the hunger to match his talent, the type that sees players use their “time off” to get better in the gym. Davis, who says there’s no skill he ever stops developing, told NBA.com that he wasn’t interested in any extra vacation after the basketball World Cup.
I had about a week off. (Pelicans coaches) wanted me to take more time off, but any basketball player who loves the game is going to be around the game… I had a great time over there in Spain. Now it’s time to get back to work.
His work ethic hasn’t gone unnoticed around the league, either. Celtics legend and Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale said of Davis:
There only a few bigs in this league who can come in and dominate almost from the start. But Anthony’s work ethic and talent level have shown me he’s only going to get better. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to love to play.
He Can Actually Shoot
Think about the big men who we regard as just extraordinary physical specimens of the game (your Dwight Howards, Blake Griffins, etc). The one glaring thing most fans beg for them to address is usually their shot-making ability.
By year two, Davis already has that in at least some capacity, specifically around the top of the key where he shoots the best. Throw in the fact that he was the NBA’s most improved mid-range shooter last year and it’s clear that Davis is on a great pace to becoming a complete player.
He’s A Rim Protector
Even more valuable than players who are defensively solid are players who alter whole teams’ offensive strategy. Davis is showing signs that he can be up there with the best at doing just that.
Last season, opponents who met Davis at the rim finished fewer than half of the shots they attempted at the basket. His official opponents’ field goal percentage at the rim of 48.8 percent was better than other notable centers, like Marc Gasol (51.2 percent), DeMarcus Cousins (51.1 percent) and Tyson Chandler (50.9 percent).
He Is A Novelty
Davis is about 6’10, 235 lbs. He’s quick, jumps out of the gym and has a shot to his game. He can play both power forward and center and runs the floor like a gazelle. At the basket, he throws a block party and he’s perfect for the pick-and-roll. He is, above all else, ridiculously athletic with a 7’7 wingspan.
The one thing you might say is that he’s lacking is size. Even then, the 17 lbs Davis added in the summer shows that he’s addressing that department. In essence, he is everything you want from a modern big man, and only one team has him.
Other Greats Acknowledge His Talent
Dirk Nowitzki told Grantland’s Zach Lowe:
I’m not sure he reminds me of anyone now. In my 16 years, I’ve never seen anyone like him.
Pau Gasol couldn’t help but be amazed after getting outplayed by Davis one night:
Pau Gasol on Anthony Davis: “A special player … He’s able to block a shot on one end and sprint to the other end and get a lay-up”
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 9, 2013
When Davis sent a text of congratulations to 2014 league MVP Kevin Durant, the OKC star told him he’s next, replying:
You on your way to get it.
As they say, real recognize real.
Top Photo Courtesy: Facebook
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