NBA Draft 2012: Power Ranking the Best Anthony Davis Comparisons

Jay Wierenga@@JayWierengaCorrespondent IJune 11, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: Power Ranking the Best Anthony Davis Comparisons

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    Comparisons before the NBA draft are inevitable.

    It is hard to know why we do it. Is it optimism, pessimism or just plain laziness?

    Like the meaning of the words San Diego, nobody knows.

    But since we are already talking about it, let's dive right into this year's comparisons.

    Anthony Davis is the most talented player in this year's NBA draft, and therefore the player that it is most interesting to compare.

    Will he become the next superstar, a journeyman or a bust?

    Here are the eight most likely comparisons, starting from the least likely and ending on the most likely.

Tim Duncan

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    I keep hearing this comparison, so I am going to run with it for a second.

    Davis and Duncan both are big, can block shots and can rebound.

    That is pretty much where the comparison ends.

    Davis is more athletic and will probably block more shots per game. Other than that, he has a very long way to go before he gets close to Duncan's stature.

    Duncan was a polished offensive player even as a rookie, and in his prime he was one of the best of all time.

    Davis probably won't get to this level, but if he becomes even half the player Duncan was, he will have a stellar career.

Jermaine O'Neal

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    For some of the younger readers, O'Neal is only a washed-up big man who is only capable clogging the middle these days.

    But when he was younger, he was a handful.

    Six times he averaged at least 19 points per game in a season, including 24 per game in 2005. He also was a good rebounder, grabbing at least nine or more per game six times.

    Blocking shots was not quite his forte, but he still managed at least two per game in eight seasons.

    The smart money is on Davis far exceeding O'Neal on almost all fronts, except for scoring. O'Neal was a great low-post scorer, and Davis needs to work on that part of his game.

Larry Nance

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    For some of the younger fans of this site, Nance may be a mystery. To some of the older fans, Nance might be an afterthought.

    Nance was an athletic big man who could score in bunches and block shots.

    He was an explosive leaper and a dynamic dunker. But his athletic ability didn't always translate into anything beyond scoring and blocks.

    He never averaged double-digit rebounds in a season, although he did manage a career high of three blocks per game.

    Personally, I think Davis will far surpass Nance defensively and on the glass. But offensively, he will take some time. Nance averaged better than 19 points per game in five seasons, and finished his career averaging 17.1 points per game.

Shawn Kemp

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    It is an absolute shame that the younger readers will have no idea who I am talking about when I talk about the "Reign Man."

    Shawn Kemp burst onto the scene in 1989 like a freight train from hell. He not only was the first player to be drafted in the first round straight out of high school in over a decade, but he exhibited a rare combination of quickness, power and explosiveness.

    He had six straight seasons of double-double averages and had the ability to block shots.

    That being said, he never really developed his offensive game. He always seemed content to rely on his athletic ability, and therefore his career fell apart when he lost it.

    Davis has the tools to far exceed Kemp and the desire to be as great for a longer period of time.

Kevin Garnett

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    There are a lot of reasons why Davis could become the next Kevin Garnett.

    He is a smart player with athletic prowess and a desire to get better. He also can block shots, rebound with gusto and score around the hoop.

    What truly will determine whether or not Davis can reach Garnett's ability on the court is his offensive repertoire. 

    Garnett became a very strong mid-range jump shooter and was a great post-up scorer, especially in his prime.

    Davis already is a better shot-blocker, but Garnett is a better rebounder and scorer. Where Davis can make his mark is as a defensive player. Garnett became a great defender; Davis already is one.

Rasheed Wallace

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    There are a lot of similarities between Wallace and Davis.

    Both were highly touted players coming out of high school, both chose to play for big-time programs and both are supremely talented.

    Davis is similar in another way to Wallace: He has supreme defensive instincts.

    When you watch Davis play, he seems to always put himself in the best position to make a play. Wallace was also great at this, although he didn't have Davis' shot-blocking ability. He never averaged more than two per game in a season.

    However, both are athletic, long and smart.

    Davis is a better rebounder and will probably be a better finisher.

    If he can develop Wallace's post moves and passing ability, he could become a superstar.

Alonzo Mourning

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    Alonzo Mourning is actually a fairly accurate comparison to Davis.

    Both were about the same size when joining the league, both have amazing defensive instincts and both are fierce competitors.

    Davis compares well with Mourning defensively and on the glass. But offensively, Mourning far exceeded Davis upon entering the draft.

    That being said, Mourning had four years at Georgetown to develop that offensive repertoire, and Davis had just the one. If in three years Davis is near Mourning's averages of 21 points, 11 boards and three-and-a-half blocks he had as a rookie, then the Hornets will be ecstatic.

    I think this could happen, but a lot of that will depend on how quickly Davis develops offensively and how quickly he adds more bulk to his frame.

Marcus Camby

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    This is the player Anthony Davis will become.

    From the first time I watched Davis at Kentucky, no other player truly came to mind other than Marcus Camby.

    Both are lanky, slightly underweight for their height and have stunning defensive instincts. Five times Camby averaged at least three blocks per game, and 10 times he averaged double digits in boards.

    Scoring was always a struggle for Camby, and this is where Davis could exceed the former No. 2 overall pick.

    Some scoff at this comparison and say that Davis will be much better than Camby. I think that people need to really take a look at Camby's career and realize that if Davis becomes that good as a pro, he will have a very good career.