In the left corner, measuring in at 6'10'', 220 pounds, donning the blue, gold and red trunks, Anthony Davis enters the ring as one of the most versatile players in the world.
He's coming off a year in which he flashed superstar potential at just 20 years old. Davis averaged 13.5 points, 8.2 boards and 1.8 blocks as a rookie with New Orleans.
His opponent in the right corner, standing 6'10'' and weighing in at a whopping 270 pounds of athleticism and power, Andre Drummond awaits in the red, white and blue trunks.
Drummond was a monster in limited action as a rookie, pulling in 7.6 rebounds and swatting 1.6 shots while shooting 60.8 percent in only 20 minutes a game.
A monkey could recognize the talent between these two. The only question is, who's going to blow up first?
With both players expecting a boost in minutes and usage rates, we could be in for a high-octane battle for the most promising young big-man honor in the game.
Round 1—The Attack: Offensive Advantage
Anthony Davis's upside is driven by his blend of size, athleticism and offensive versatility. A guard his first two years in high school, Davis got struck by a seven-inch growth spurt that changed his position and future.
Now, he offers the best of both worlds—incredible physical tools, along with a diverse offensive skill set.
At this point, Drummond's offensive strengths all center around his physical tools (size, strength, length, athleticism), which he uses to finish plays at the rim. Rarely does Drummond stray from the paint, doing the majority of his damage off the creativity of others. For the most part, Drummond is a finisher—and a damn good one—but one that requires a set-up man to make the initial pass for many of his scoring opportunities.
According to Vorped, 94 percent of his made field goals as a rookie came from dunks, alley-oops, tips or layups:
On the other hand, Davis has shown he can score in a variety of different ways. Using the skills he has as a guard, Davis played mostly facing the basket as a rookie. And given his foot speed and handle, he's become a mismatch for much slower-footed big men away from the rim.
Facing the basket, Davis is a one-on-one threat off the dribble:
He's proven he can step outside and knock down catch-and-shoot jumpers:
Davis has also learned a few tricks of the big-man trade, showing he can score in the post with his back to the basket:
Davis brings a whole lot more to the offensive table, including a face-up game, a post game, a jump shot and an above-the-rim presence. With the size of a 4 or 5 and a skill set that covers four positions, Davis' offensive versatility gives him the edge in Round 1.
Offensive Advantage: Anthony Davis
Round 2—Body Shots: Interior Presence
Andre Drummond was only given 20 minutes a game as a rookie with Detroit. But you wouldn't know it from the box scores.
He was consistently active, making his presence felt inside whenever he was in the game. Given his mass and athletic capability, Drummond controlled the glass and protected the rim at an extremely impressive rate.
Anthony Davis put up solid numbers across the board, as he made plenty of plays inside as both a finisher, rebounder and shot-blocker. But Drummond took it to another level.
Check out each player's stats per 40 minutes:
|Interior Stats Per 40 Minutes||Field-Goal Percentage||Def. Rebounds||Off. Rebounds||Blocks|
Drummond is simply overwhelming on the interior, and with a live motor and nose for the ball, he's constantly in position to make a play.
At 220 pounds, Davis just doesn't have the body to take and dish out this same level of punishment.
Offensively, Drummond has the strength to finish through contact and the athleticism to finish around it. Defensively, he's ready to anchor the paint as a challenging rim protector. And on the boards, Drummond looks poised to finish the year as a double-double machine and one of the top rebounders in the game.
Who's going to have the bigger sophomore year?
At the end of the day, Davis is a little more multidimensional, while Drummond specializes in interior play. If you're looking for a big man to set a physical tone, it's Drummond who should get the nod.
Bigger Interior Presence: Andre Drummond
Round 3: Preparation: Ready for Liftoff
There's no doubt that both of these players are lined up for breakout NBA seasons, but one has the chance to immediately break through into that elite tier where the top ballers hang.
Drummond is going to be a beast for Detroit. He's likely to quickly emerge as one of the more dominant interior forces this game has to offer. However, he's still a bit too raw offensively, and he lacks that ability to create his own offense.
Not only does Davis bring it on the boards and defensive end, but he's capable of taking over a game as an offensive weapon.
He's made at least nine field goals in each of his first four preseason games, scoring over 20 points in each. We're not just talking about a guy who finishes lobs, tips and dump passes. Davis has become a potential go-to option for points in the half court.
He also thrives at the line, while Drummond has been forced to the bench in crunch-time moments because of the struggles he has from the stripe.
While Drummond's production and impact will undoubtedly spike, it's Davis who possesses a few more NBA-ready qualities.
More Ready to Explode: Anthony Davis
There really isn't a loser in this battle, as both young big men are in line for head-turning sophomore years.
But Davis is on the verge of becoming something special. Last year, it was James Harden who emerged as the newest member of the superstar club. I'll take Anthony Davis in 2013-14.
Result: Anthony Davis over Andre Drummond