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Dime NBA Draft Profile: Anthony Davis

They used to call it one of the best draft classes of the last 25 years. Now, it’s looking more and more like Anthony Davis… and then everybody else. Still, this Thursday, the 2012 NBA Draft will bring hope, and hopefully new talent to some teams that desperately need it.

As we do every year, Dime will be holding you down with mock drafts, player interviews and diaries (you should check out Dion Waiters‘ draft diary), and we will also be bringing you draft profiles for every potential prospect deemed worthy. With this year’s crop of talent, that list is long. Our last profile was on the future of UNC’s Thomas Robinson. Today, we’re looking at Kentucky’s Anthony Davis.

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PLAYER COMPARISONS
Best Case: Kevin Garnett
Worst Case: Greg Oden
Final Comparison: Marcus Camby

Athleticism
Athletic ability has a lot to do with why Anthony Davis is so successful. On top of that ridiculous length he has, he has the athleticism to top it off. He has the type of elite athleticism you look for in a shot blocker and pick and roll big man. He’s a great target for lobs and is extremely quick for his size. His quickness is what makes him such a unique player. Because of his mobility and excellent all-around timing, he’s very successful at rotating for blocked shots on defense and slipping screens or cutting back door for layups and lobs. His jumping ability just makes him even more unstoppable in those situations. He runs the floor with speed, which makes him a real threat in transition. Davis’ strongest asset for the next level will be his athleticism. If he can continue to use it to get easy baskets and be that game-changing shot blocker everyone thinks he can become, he’ll fulfill his potential and be worthy of the No. 1 overall pick.
Grade: 9

[RELATED: Dime Mock Draft 4.0]

Skill
Davis has advanced skills for a player his size. Before he shot up to 6-10 his senior year of high school, he was a guard; and you can tell by the way he plays. He rarely looks uncomfortable with the basketball in his hands, even when the ball comes to him on the fast break. After grabbing a defensive rebound, he doesn’t hesitate to push it out on the break for 3 or 4 dribbles. His mid-range jumper is consistent, but still needs a bit of polishing. His length and athleticism makes him a solid finisher. He has touch on his jump hook and the fundamental footwork you look for in a big man, which shows that he has the potential to become a real post presence in the future. He’s got that Kevin Garnett all-around skill package. It’s still very raw, and does need a bit of seasoning, but it’s all there nonetheless. It won’t be long before his game really develops and, if it does, he could turn into the franchise player we all expect him to.
Grade: 9

NBA Readiness
Although he has the NBA athleticism and skill, he just doesn’t have the NBA body yet. Standing at 6-10 and only weighing in at 222 will be an issue for Davis at the next level. Even though he has tremendous length and timing, he’s not immune to getting outmuscled. In the NBA, there’s usually a whole lot of muscle underneath the basket. Since he already has a reputation as a shot blocker, his opponents will to try to bury him under the basket and go up strong. If there’s one thing Davis has to work on, there’s no question it’s his strength. You have to imagine that an extra year or two at Kentucky would have given him the necessary time he needed to really grow into and build on that lanky 6″10 frame. Offensively, he’ll be okay because of his versatility, quickness, and athletic ability. But he won’t become a real game-changing offensive threat until he gets stronger and learns to really back down his opponent. He’s got the footwork and post moves down – he just needs the strength to make them effective at the next level. His post moves worked well in college, but in the NBA he’ll struggle getting in position to make those same types of moves. Defensively, he’ll be able to impact games because of his quickness, timing and athletic ability. Although guards will be thinking twice about driving to the basket, some of the stronger bigs won’t be too afraid of him. If there’s anything holding back his NBA readiness, there’s no question it’s his frail frame.
Grade: 6

Upside
Real game-changing big men are very rare in today’s NBA and Anthony Davis will become exactly that. His defensive ability will make him a force to be reckoned with immediately, and his prowess on that end of the floor will only grow once he adds some bulk. He also has a high ceiling offensively. His jumper makes him difficult to guard in space. He’s crafty with his pump fakes and his footwork is polished, but too often he elects to pass out of the post because he knows he isn’t strong enough to go through his defender. Once he becomes stronger and accepts the ball in back-to-the-basket situations, he will have finally reached his potential as an NBA All-Star.
Grade: 9

Intangibles
Drafting a player with the 1st overall pick is a huge investment that could really go either way. Sometimes you think you know what you’re going to get with a kid, but then it turns out different in the end. Greg Oden, for example, was a player about whom nobody spoke negatively going into the draft. He had a similar college career to Anthony Davis, with his dominating defensive presence and raw offensive ability. Nobody questioned his potential to be great, yet he never lived up to that hype. The worst thing that could happen to Anthony Davis is if he falls into that Greg Oden slump. There are some really good players that will be selected right after Davis tonight so the pressure is on him to live up to that potential. Davis has never been a kid who is intimidated by pressure. He’ll mature at his own pace. He’s built a reputation as a coachable kid and great teammate. He has that winning mentality and will do whatever his team needs him to do to win basketball games. What’s really important when you’re talking about the intangibles of Anthony Davis is strength. Does he have the motivation and determination to get stronger and become that dominating inside post presence? That’s really what he needs in order to raise the bar for himself and become a franchise big man.
Grade: 8

Combined score: 41 out of 50 possible points.

Best Fit For: New Orleans Hornets
Anthony Davis will be a New Orleans Hornet. He’ll likely start at the 4 spot because he’s a bit undersized for the 5, but he’s definitely capable of guarding the 4 spot effectively. Davis will immediately make them a better defensive team, and offensively he gives them an extra threat with his untapped potential. He really would’ve been a good fit on any team, as every NBA team is looking for what Davis has to offer. But he really fits nicely in New Orleans because he gives them something to build around. Davis makes it so much easier on his teammates because of his ability to get easy baskets close to the rim. Also, he’s the best help defender we’ve seen in the draft in a number of years. Jarrett Jack and Eric Gordon will now become better defenders, and will get more transition opportunities because they have Davis as that last line of defense.

OUTSIDE OPINION:
“Multi-talented post terror with incredible length, feel for the game, top tier defensive instincts, and upside that’s as good as it gets. Davis needs to fill out his frame, refine his post play, and improve as a post defender, but looks like the favorite to be the #1 overall pick in 2012 NBA Draft.” — Swishscout.com.

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