Breaking Down How Hornets' Anthony Davis Can Become a Superstar as a Rookie
Anthony Davis can become a superstar.
We've talked at nausea about his defensive impact. About his record-breaking year as a shot-blocker at Kentucky. But ironically that's not what will catapult him into the game's top shelf of talent early on.
It's his offense that could turn out to present the bigger threat to opposing teams.
You might have heard it mentioned a few hundred times, but before Anthony Davis was a 6'10'' shot-blocker, he was a 6'3'' guard for the majority of his basketball career. Having that familiarity playing with the ball away from the basket gives him flexibility and a life raft during a strenuous transition process.
This process sees most rookie big men struggle at first, having used size and physical strengths their whole lives to consistently score easy points. Then they get to the pros, and they're no longer the hunter, but the hunted. No more uncontested layups, no more five-foot baby hook shots.
Davis' expansive basketball range allows him to find the bottom of the net through numerous avenues of offense.
Here's an example of how Anthony Davis used his guard-instincts and comfort level handling the ball to maximize his offensive services:
Rarely do you find power forwards or centers who can start the break and finish it without ever giving it up. His long strides and wingspan, along with his guard-like body control allow him to run with speed and finish in traffic.
Pick and Pop
Monty Williams has gotten Davis involved early in the pick and roll game, and for good reason. He's a multidimensional pick and roll player, meaning he can roll to the hoop or pop out in space.
As a pop option, Davis has shown a confident stroke in the midrange off the catch, and it's clear that this will be a shot he scores a good chunk of his points on.
Below, Anthony Davis gives Greivis Vasquez a ball-screen at the wing and then drifts backwards towards open space. Vasquez then hits his "pop" target, as Davis steps into it sporting a clean, high release.
This midrange jumper is going to take Davis to the next level. It will be his best friend. The same best friend that made Kevin Garnett a lot of money, and Kurt Thomas the oldest active player in the league.
The pick and pop will make defenders fight through screens, usually forcing them to run out and challenge, leaving them vulnerable to Davis' agility and quickness attacking the rim and blowing by. It's just another spot he's a threat from, both short-team and long-term.
Pick and Roll
He's an even bigger threat as a pick and roll target above the rim, thanks to his timing, athleticism, length and hops.
Below we have Davis slipping the high pick and roll, and Vasquez putting it only where Davis can reach and finish. If run effectively and timely in regards to the defensive setup, this could be a huge source of offense for the Hornets, and an easy way to get Anthony Davis on the board.
This is practically an effortless two for Davis that's nearly unguardable if properly executed.
Below is an example of how Anthony Davis is effective in space. Working the high pick and roll, Davis sets a screen, slips to the foul line and catches it with room ahead. He now has two high-percentage options, one being to pull up for the baby jumper, which he is fully capable of knocking down. The other is to attack the space in front of him, looking to either draw the foul or get an easier look at the rim.
When Davis catches the ball at the foul line, he makes an aggressive move to the hole without hesitating or using a dribble. His ability to quickly launch himself at the basket generated by long strides and explosive hops make it difficult for help defenders to set themselves coming off a defensive rotation.
On the defensive side of the ball, Davis' ubiquitous presence is felt on both the interior and the perimeter. His length, timing and leaping abilities not only force bad shots and alter good ones, but allow him to physically change the direction of a shot that regularly reaches the rim.
Below we see Jamaal Tinsley penetrate the defense, and attempt to send a floater off one foot in order to avoid the looming Davis.
Davis gets the ball at its highest point, tipping it to himself and regaining possession. You don't see too many floaters get blocked, considering its primary purpose is to soar over the arms of outstretched defenders. Unfortunately for Tinsley, those arms belonged to Anthony Davis.
The Full Package
Superstars separate themselves by consistently contributing in multiple facets of the game. Davis will get himself easy points off the ball thanks to his physical tools, motor and instincts. But it's his ability to fulfill different offensive roles, such as a multidimensional pick and roll threat and aggressive rim-attacker, that will make him the primary focus of opposing defenses.
Scouts pegged him as the number one pick last year pretty early, quickly recognizing Davis' two-way potential. While every top pick has talent, Davis' basketball body, relentless activity level and overall feel for the game should allow him to excel as a rookie and compete with the best.
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