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No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis could become Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. Or he might just become the next great superstar journeyman, Anthony Randolph.
And so goes the range for most NBA rookies, but the risk seems to heighten when dealing with post players who haven’t proved capable of playing offensively in the post. But there are few knocks on Davis other than his narrow frame and inability to position in the post.
His length and versatility as a 19-year-old draw comparisons to the all-time great skinny post, Garnett, who entered the league at a similar height and weight in 1995, when Davis was going through his "terrible twos."
You can’t overlook weight, though, and you can look to the increased production of Garnett as a result of becoming stronger into his mid-20s and averaging more than 20 points per game and double-digit rebounds. So for now, unless Davis follows suit of the many 19-year-olds currently gaining weight by way of Pabst and dorm-room Madden, he’s still too weak to deserve such a comparison.
The likeness to Garnett may also be limited to simple physical similarities anyway; other than a similar mid-range and defensive style, Davis and Garnett are different players. Garnett’s level of ferocity has always allowed him to battle.
It’s hard to imagine the lackluster post offense of Davis that showed up in the national championship to find success in the NBA against the likes of a DeMarcus Cousins. While the NBA game has evolved from a low-block, bang-‘em-up style, there is still enough of that to push Davis out of his comfort area.
It will end up being the defense of Davis that makes him special and worthy of a top selection. It’s also what makes a clear comparison to Marcus Camby.
Just as Camby was out of UMass, Davis is quick to the ball and often in the right spot to make a defensive play. Watch his UMass highlights, and you’ll see a similar-looking, lanky forward still finding comfort on offense but exuding confidence on defense.
By sprinkling in an enhanced smoothness with the ball and extra perimeter ability, Davis becomes a slightly better version of Camby, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. New Orleans got a guy capable of double-doubles and strict paint security.