Anthony Davis, a star on the Kentucky basketball team, has become a treat to watch.
His impeccable timing mixed with his basketball IQ and his sheer athleticism make him a force on the court. He leads the NCAA in blocks per game, averaging almost five, places second in the SEC for rebounds with 10.4 a match and produces a statistical double-double when his points per game (13.7) are factored in.
No one can deny this young man the title of a remarkable defensive player. In fact, he is on pace to shatter the NCAA record for blocks in a single season and he does so without even the slightest hint at fouling his opponents. Davis is spot on when he says, “There’s no reason to foul,” because he just does not have to. Somehow, he is always on top of the ball when the opponent pushes to the basket.
Simply put, the way Davis plays defense has rarely, if ever, been seen on the college level.
The problem with No. 23 lies on the other side of the court: the offensive facet of his game.
For most of his high school career, Davis played as a guard. That is, until he sprouted eight-inches and became a legitimate threat on the post. As a result of such sporadic growth, Davis fits the height and athletic requirement of a dangerous forward, but not the build and strength of one.
He simply cannot match up against bigger, stronger forwards when it comes to making effective post moves. He is rarely seen creating his own shots, and he relies far too much on his teammates to set up him up for scores.
Clearly, head coach John Calipari notices this. He recognizes the fact that Davis, at this point in his career, does not possess the ability to run an offensive effectively. Therefore, Davis’ usage rate is only around 15 percent a game.
The X-factor he all too often fails to utilize is his guard skill set, which can be combined with the pure force of a great forward to produce an unbelievable player.
If he can develop his strength and grow into his length, then Davis will be a powerhouse on offense. Opposing teams will shudder at the thought of having to face a player with his field-goal accuracy and the ability to break through defenders.
Most analysts and NBA teams are expecting Davis to be a one-and-done for Kentucky. Yet, he could develop into an extremely dangerous offensive weapon if he were to stay just one more year.
To borrow an example from another college sport, look at what happened with Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Already a good player, he grew extensively in every aspect of his game this past offseason, became even more accurate with his deep ball and increased his speed on breakaway plays. As a result, he won the Heisman.
Get stronger, develop more moves and sustain his defensive play, and this fine talent could be the best dual-threat player to ever compete in the college game.
Until Davis' offensive output is on par with his talent (akin to his performance against Arkansas), his legitimacy as one of college basketball's best overall players is questionable.