Apr 2, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kentucky Wildcats players Anthony Davis (23) and Terrence Jones (3) react during the second half in the finals of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball Final Four against the Kansas Jayhawks at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE
What are the chances the Kentucky freshman doesn't end up becoming the best player from this draft? The first in a four-part conversation breaking down all of the big story-lines before Thursday.
Most of the build up and publicity surrounding the 2012 NBA Draft has focused on Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis, who has emerged as the consensus No. 1 pick. Davis is certainly an interesting prospect, but I don't think it's anywhere close to a guarantee that he becomes the top player from this draft.
Kentucky was amazing last year and he had great defensive stats (10.4 rebounds, 4.7 blocks), but that team was a lot more than just Davis. That was a collegiate All-Star team: they brought the two best players back (I'm not a big Brandon Knight fan) from a Final Four team and then added three 5-star recruits in Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquise Teague. The top 6 players in their rotation are all going to be drafted.
It makes it pretty easy to dominate defensively when a 6'9 (Terrence Jones) and 6'7 lottery pick (MKG) are shutting players right to you, and it's pretty easy to score 14 points on 62% shooting when all you are doing is finishing lobs at the rim. Davis famously told his teammates that they could handle the offense and he would handle the defense and rebounding in the championship game, but shouldn't a player being compared to Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett be able to create his own shot?
He's got a decent stroke (71% from the free-throw line), so maybe he could develop a face-up dribble-drive game, but he sure didn't show it with the Wildcats. For that matter, at 220 pounds, he's going to have a hard time surviving an NBA paint and boxing out opposing centers, which means he's going to have to adjust to playing away from the basket as a power forward.
There's just a lot we don't know about his game yet, and it's a little strange to me that everyone is just taking it on faith that he'll be able to answer all those questions. It's hard to dominate an NBA playoff game just on shot-blocking because the players are skilled enough to score efficiently from mid-range and deep. His ability to protect the rim and finish will give him a long and productive career at the next level, but isn't it entirely possible he maxes out at Marcus Camby?
I have a hard time seeing him becoming a better all-around player than Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum. What's really strange is how comparable Davis is to John Henson at UNC, who has completely slipped under the radar during this whole process. Henson is going to give you 90% of what Davis does; the real difference is there's less potential for growth because he's been in college three seasons.
The consensus in this draft seems to be a Tier 1 of Davis and a Tier 2 of Thomas Robinson, Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond and MKG. What do you make of that hierarchy and do you think there is a group-think phenomenon in terms of which players are considered elite? (For example, if Missouri hadn't been upset in the first round and knocked out Florida in the second, I highly doubt everyone would be so high on Beal.)
Check back tomorrow for Willie Funk's response and who he thinks are the top prospects available.