Editor’s note: This is the first in a series examining top prospects in the NBA Draft. Profiles are based on conversations with NBA general managers and scouts.
Anthony Davis will single-handedly add 20 wins to the team that drafts him in his first season. So says one NBA scout, who claims to have seen Davis play more than 75 times during Davis’ high school and college career.
Other scouts say those expectations are probably too high — but all agree Davis will make a very good pro who could alter the course of a franchise forever.
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That’s because Davis has all the important tools in a power forward. He’s 6-foot-9 with a 7-4 wingspan. He runs the floor and finishes exceptionally well. He blocks shots and dunks with relative ease. He’s explosive, intelligent and extremely smooth.
“Really good things happen when the ball is in his hands,” says one scout, “yet he forces nothing and plays within the team concept. Plus, he’s a good person. He’s the total package.”
He’s also a winner, having led a loaded Kentucky team to the national championship in his one college season.
Those reasons and more are why Davis is everyone’s choice to become the No. 1 overall pick in the June 28 draft — regardless of who wins the May 30 lottery.
Anyone who has seen Davis play understands why. At Kentucky, he just seemed light years ahead of everyone else in terms of poise, and in most cases, athleticism. His stats weren’t half bad, either.
He shot a sizzling 62 percent from the floor, leading the NCAA in dunks. He blocked a whopping 4.7 shots per game. He averaged 14.2 points and grabbed 10.4 rebounds, and made it all look so effortless.
“He’ll be a better scorer in the pros than he was at Kentucky,” says one GM. “Potentially, he’s a 20-point scorer (in the NBA). But the thing we like about him is it doesn’t appear getting shots are a major priority. Winning and doing all the other important things are.”
Along with Davis’ many other positive attributes, scouts rave about his ball-handling skills, underrated passing ability and penchant for using his dribble wisely before quickly bursting to the basket.
Defensively, his shot-blocking prowess makes him a constant pest, but he’s also talented in guarding his man away from the basket.
As the website Draft Express pointed out, “(Davis) can cover ground incredibly well, making him a threat to rotate from the weak-side instantaneously and offer help defense with terrific timing. Despite the aggressiveness he plays with, he rarely fouls, only doing so 2.6 times per-40 minutes.”
So, could Davis really improve your favorite team’s record by 20 wins, all by himself, in his first NBA season?
“That’s a little lofty, because I’m not even sure LeBron (James) did that,” says one scout. “But if everyone is right about this kid, he’ll do it in no more than two seasons. And I wouldn’t put anything past him. He’s just that good.”