Why Antony Davis Is Destined to Be Even Bigger Than Tim Duncan

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 23, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 12:  Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Hornets is seen prior to the start of the game with the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center on October 12, 2012 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Even with the LeBron James-like expectations set forth for the rookie season of Anthony Davis, life in the NBA wasn't supposed to be this easy for the former one-and-done Kentucky star.

Consider the odds stacked against him.

Davis entered a New Orleans Hornets franchise in disarray. The team was fewer than 12 months removed from the departure of perhaps the top player in franchise history, a still-in-his-prime Chris Paul. The team's current best player, Eric Gordon, has yet to play a single minute in the 2012-13 season due to a lingering knee injury which Gordon and team doctors have said involves no structural damage (according to Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune).

Although injuries have limited Davis to just six of the team's first 10 games, the 19-year-old power forward has already proven worthy of that elevated draft stock. Davis' 26.4 player efficiency rating puts him ahead of any player's aged 20 or younger season in more than 30 years (according to espn.com's Justin Havens).

The sample size couldn't be any smaller. Then again, the sample itself couldn't be more impressive.

Davis ranks among the top two Hornets' rotation players in scoring (16.0 points per game, second), rebounding (8.3, first), field-goal percentage (49.3, second) and blocks (2.2, first). He's using good footwork to guide his 220-lb. frame to efficient scoring inside the paint (56.6 percent). Not to mention that the midrange jumper he displayed with the Wildcats has yet to factor in his NBA success (5-of-16).

He has the size (6'10") to continue his post production throughout the season. But thanks to his handles and quickness, defenders can't just wait for him to move toward the basket. And his passing ability (thanks to his point guard past) forces help defenders to think twice about bringing the double-team.

His defensive abilities led to predraft comparisons to Marcus Camby and Kevin Garnett. Those may sound like unrealistic predictions, but his defensive numbers with Kentucky (4.7 blocks and 1.4 steals per game) would say otherwise.

Stretching his early production over the span of an 82-game season shouldn't be a problem for Davis given the comparable talents of his teammates. If he can simply stay on the floor, he'll remain the offensive and defensive focal points.

His biggest challenge will be finding a way to channel his abilities in to making his teammates better. Duncan's impact in his rookie season of 1997-98 (21.1 points and 11.9 rebounds) helped lead the Spurs to a 36-game regular season improvement over their previous season. Then again, the 21-year-old Duncan also had the help of a 32-year-old David Robinson.

Robin Lopez isn't exactly in Robinson's category. And Greivis Vasquez isn't quite Avery Johnson.

Davis needs some help if New Orleans hopes to turn around their 3-7 start. He needs a healthy, focused Gordon back on the floor. He needs Austin Rivers to find the maturity that draft scouts wondered if he ever would.

But New Orleans didn't draft Davis for what he could help them accomplish this season. Hornets GM Dell Demps was thinking big picture when he made Davis the first overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft.

If these six games were just the preview of what the big man is capable of, his career has blockbuster potential.


All statistics used in this article are accurate as of 11/22/2012.