Anthony Davis is a unique defensive prospect, and he will quickly turn into one of the most devastating defenders in the league.
As his career progresses, he will eventually be mentioned in the same breath as Dikembe Mutombo, Ben Wallace and Dwight Howard who all won the Defensive Player of the Year award multiple times.
Davis is a remarkable shot-blocker and averaged 4.7 swats per game last season at Kentucky. He is extremely long and an explosive leaper, and these qualities will ensure that he is a defensive force at the pro level as well.
The power forward is capable of protecting the rim like few players in the league can, and his defensive skills will be immediately apparent in the NBA.
However, two qualities that do not have to do with his shot-blocking talents will catapult him from a solid defensive player into an all-time great defensive force.
First, he has the competitive spirit that characterizes all Hall of Fame players that made their mark on defense.
Protecting the rim in the NBA takes a special drive and commitment to that end of the floor. Davis proved that he has these intangibles during his only season in college basketball.
Individual awards were not enough for him, and he made sure he led his team to a national championship. In the finals of the NCAA Tournament, he scored just six points, but recorded 16 rebounds, six blocks and three steals. His willingness to contribute to other areas of the game when he cannot score effectively is evidence of the competitive drive that makes him a great defender.
How many Defensive Player of the Year awards will Anthony Davis win?
The second quality that will make him the best defender in the NBA is his lack of ability to contribute consistently on offense. Davis will quickly recognize that he is the most help to his team when he focuses the majority of his energy on defense.
This was the case with players like Wallace, Mutombo and, to a lesser extent, Howard.
Wallace never averaged more than 10 points a game in his career and Mutombo averaged over 15 points just once. Both these players knew that their best quality was their defense, and that is where they spent most of their effort.
A better comparison is Howard, who has been able to score effectively during his career. Still, he has often been criticized for not having polished post moves and being inconsistent and unreliable on the offensive end.
Davis will be a better scorer than both Wallace and Mutombo, but like Howard, he will struggle to score consistently. This will cause him to focus mostly on maximizing his defensive talents.
By doing this, he will make the most out of his potential on the defensive end of the floor and develop into the best defender in the NBA. Like the other players mentioned, once he wins the award once, he will have endeared himself to voters and will win the award again as long as he maintains a similar level of play.