Anthony Davis will not be browbeaten into hearing that he’s not the top pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Thursday night, the linchpin of the one-and-done champions from Kentucky will go first overall to the Hornets barring an all-time draft upset. That’s what stuck to me about Davis this season: The only upset was that he lived up to enormous hype as a player and as a member of Kentucky’s too-young, too-unseasoned team. Maybe it was because Harrison Barnes had a slow start as a freshman that didn’t live up to his preseason All-American slot, but there was a reserved sense about what Davis could accomplish. A hush about if he could live up to the 7-foot hype. Well, he did it.
[RELATED: Thomas Robinsons’s Top 5 Plays Of The Season]
With his No. 1 pick imminent, it was the right time to look back on his freshman year in the bluegrass. Here are his top five plays of the season.
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5. Going HAM on a fan.
I want to make this No. 1, but it’s not from a game, so I feel like some unwritten highlight code would be broken if I did. It’s from the night of Big Blue Madness, when students can interact with their fellow first-rounders in training, and as this clip shows, even get obliterated by one of them if they talk enough good-natured junk. Davis actually handles being upstaged well early in the video, knowing that the night was about the fans and that, well, he was Anthony Davis. I like to think this is his retelling of the story of LeBron James being beaten in a game of H-O-R-S-E by random fan David Kalb. This time the star wins, period.
4. Both ends of the floor
And this is the reason NBA scouts had to pick their jaws off the floor. He blocks St. John’s on one end, then glides to the other for the slam. You were probably thinking I’d put the <a href="
3. No mercy on a teammate
I know I just explained how I felt about non-game plays, but this is a play no one is talking about that shows everything worth talking about with Davis. There’s a burst of speed off the cut, the surprise takeoff from outside the key, and the nasty finish all coming on fellow first-rounder-to-be Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
2. Rocking, chalking the Jayhawks
I love the late November or early December games, when it’s the first chance to see the newest crop of stars anâ€”IS DAVIS FOR REAL? That’s paraphrasing the reaction of everyone not named John Calipari as Davis’ season began to take off in earnest, starting with a huge dunk and performance against Kansas at Madison Square Garden. Garbage time? Davis will still dunk on your like it’s the first minute, thank you.
1. The dunk from out of nowhere
We want to put posts in boxes, keeping them as figures who only work with a back to the basket, never patrolling the area outside of 15 feet. Davis does that the majority of his time to be sure, but he can sprinkle in plays where he blows past the boundary of what a center can do. This put-back slam on Georgia â€” from an awkward angle, over a guy, while sprinting in from the 21 feet out â€” is a pretty good illustration of that point. And another in his massive body of evidence from this season about why he’ll be the No. 1 pick.