How Anthony Davis Can Top Damian Lillard for NBA Rookie of the Year
The Rookie of the Year race isn't over. While Damian Lillard has been stellar all year with statistics that resemble those of a trophy winner, Anthony Davis will have the last third of the season to make a push.
So, what does he have to do in order to sway the voters in his favor? Most likely buy them all lobster dinners and hope that Lillard hits the wall.
But Davis is capable of putting up bigger numbers than what he currently has. His offense is severely underestimated, and rarely is he given an opportunity to make a play unless it's off the ball at the rim.
Attack Facing Up
Because he was a 6'3'' guard just a few years ago, Davis has the instincts and foot speed to comfortably play on the perimeter. Think about the guys who are guarding him—slow power forwards who are unfamiliar with the territory 20 feet from the basket.
Facing the rim, Davis can put the ball on the deck, drive to the hoop and finish with either hand. In the example below, it's his left. With incomprehensible length, it's nearly impossible to contest one of his shots, especially if it's one-handed and he's taking it on the move.
You can see above, he's capable of getting from the perimeter to the rim with the ball in his hands. Davis should get more opportunities to play face-up basketball, considering his agility, body control and touch inside.
Davis also has some shake in the post. This is an area where New Orleans needs to start featuring its most talented big man. Because of his size and length, he's got a distinct advantage with his back to the basket. Fall-away jumpers or over-the-shoulder hooks are incontestable, thanks to Davis' ability to separate.
Check out this possession in which Davis is isolated in the post. He's being guarded by 6'9'' Ed Davis, someone with typical size for a power forward. With his back to the basket, Anthony Davis makes Ed Davis look tiny. This is a mismatch one-on-one. For Davis to make more of an impact offensively, coach Monty Williams should be calling for more plays that feature Anthony Davis on the block.
Stretch the Floor
How about playing some minutes as a stretch 4? He's only taken four three-pointers all year, probably because he doesn't have the green light to do so. But Davis has some range and serious confidence.
We've seen Davis' mid-range stroke, which he's knocking down with consistency as a drive-and-dish target and pick-and-pop recipient. But rarely does he stretch the floor off the ball as a three-point threat.
During the Olympics this summer, Davis didn't get much burn, but he did make the highlight reel with a four-point play that showed off his range.
In order to leapfrog Lillard, Davis is going to need some help from his coach and point guard, who can put him in better positions to excel on the offensive end.
He's got the potential to be much more offensively than just a pick-and-roll candidate and cleanup man at the rim. Davis will need to be more aggressive down the stretch and find new ways to increase his offensive impact.
Whether we see it over the next few months or the next few years, Anthony Davis is going to be a special two-way player in this league for a very long time.
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