NBA Draft 2012: Anthony Davis Is Best Big Man to Enter Draft Since Tim Duncan

Matt ShetlerCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2017

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 02:  Anthony Davis #23 and Marquis Teague #25 of the Kentucky Wildcats block Jeff Withey #5 of the Kansas Jayhawks in the National Championship Game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on April 2, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

After Wednesday night's draft lottery gave the New Orleans Hornets the No. 1 overall pick, it appears Kentucky's Anthony Davis will be taking his talents to Bourbon Street.

That's great new for the Hornets, as I've said time and time again that Davis is the best big man to enter the draft since the San Antonio Spurs drafted Tim Duncan No. 1 overall in 1997.

There are plenty of reasons why I say that, but first let's take a look at the drafts since then.

Examining the big men taken at the top of the draft, you get names such as Michael Olowokandi (1998), Elton Brand ('99), Kenyon Martin ('00), Kwame Brown ('01), Yao Ming ('02), Dwight Howard ('04), Andrew Bogut ('05), Greg Oden ('07) and Blake Griffin ('09).

Ming's career was unfortunately cut short due to injury, and the likes of Bogut and Griffin have done some good things in the NBA as well, but the only true star is Howard.

If you remember that 2004 draft, there was hype surrounding Howard, but nothing comparable to the hype machine that Davis has created. 

Very few people saw much of Howard at all because he came out of high school and went directly to the NBA draft. In fact, it was a tough decision for the Magic to draft Howard No. 1 overall over Emeka Okafor.

Yet at this point of Howard's career, he's a guy that puts up good individual numbers (18.4 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 2.2 BPG), but his career isn't comparable to that of Duncan's, who has accomplished everything as a basketball player. Howard still has a ways to go.

Which brings me back to Davis.

In a guard-dominated league, he's the most hyped big man to come into the NBA since Duncan. Everyone has seen what the young man is capable of because he had the luxury of a year of college.

Let's look at the overall skill set of the 19-year old and see how it compares to other big men. You will see how rare of a commodity Davis really is.

Davis is one of the most physically gifted players on this planet at the moment. He runs the floor well, is quick and explosive off his feet and moves extremely smooth at both ends of the floor.

Starting with his biggest strength on the defensive end of the floor, Davis has the ability that no one else on that list has in the fact that he can dominate a game without touching the basketball.

He's got an insane 7'6" wingspan, and his pure athletic ability allows him to get off the floor quickly and easily. Davis blocked 4.7 shots per games and likely altered four times that many.

As far as rebounding, he gets himself into great position at both ends of the floor. While he averaged 10.4 rebounds per game, his work on the offensive glass is very impressive as he's not only a terror attacking the glass, but also easily turns offensive boards into points.

People will knock Davis' offensive game, but the truth is that he's an extremely efficient player at the offensive end. He shot 62 percent from the floor and 71 percent from the free-throw line, which is something Howard still can't do.

Davis made nearly 67 percent of his two-point attempts and is simply one of the best finishers to come into the NBA in the past 15 years. He only averaged 14.2 points per game, but he would have been much more dominant had Kentucky not been the unselfish team that they were.

He has great footwork for a young kid and is very good fundamentally, which is reminiscent of Duncan. But Davis has guard-type skills in a big man's body.

He handle the ball very well and is an excellent passer. There's also the fact that Davis isn't just a scorer in the paint as he can shoot the mid-range jumper very well off pick-and-roll or spot-up situations, which also separates his game from the rest of the big men mentioned.

Entering the NBA draft, there's absolutely nothing not to like about the youngster's game. Once he bulks up some, Davis will be even better.

Whether he lives up to the hype is one thing, but it's very easy to see what all the hype is about and why Davis is the best big man to enter the draft since Duncan did so in 1997.