Monday, April 16, 2012

2 comments Sounds like Anthony Davis Has David Steele's Hall of Fame Vote Already

Most people like Anthony Davis. Most people also think he is going to be a very good NBA player. He is the clear #1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Is he a finished product? Not in any way. He could definitely use a bit more weight on him, he could also learn some post moves, as well as perhaps get a better overall offensive game. Of course he is only 19 years old. So while I really like Davis a lot, I'm not sure I am in the same camp as David Steele. He has Davis pegged as one of the top NBA centers of all-time. That's probably a bit much. I'm not sure the point of writing an article claiming Davis is ready to be one of the NFL's top centers of all-time. Maybe the point is for David Steele to be able to write another article in 20 years that says, "See, I told you he was going to be as good as Bill Russell. I am smart." Of course, if he's wrong about Davis, we'll never hear that he was wrong. That's just the way it goes.

His own coach at Kentucky and the one competing in the same state, John Calipari and Rick Pitino, both made the Bill Russell comparison last weekend.

Wow, a Bill Russell comparison. Haven't we heard one of these type comparisons before? I remember there was another center who came out of college who was the next great center and was compared to Bill Russell prematurely. Oh yeah, it was Greg Oden. He was also an offensively limited center who blocked and changed shots while in college. I remember how bright of a future he had in the NBA. He not only looked like Bill Russell, but also played like him.

I know injuries took Oden's career, but he also serves as a lesson to not compare players to NBA Hall of Famers until that players has actually entered the NBA. Regardless, David Steele ain't got time for caution because he's all about the hyperbole.

Calipari even asked directly: Do you, Anthony Davis, know who Bill Russell is?

So Davis' college coach thinks he is extremely talented? Has this ever happened before? Has a college basketball coach ever thought one of his players was talented?

Yes, Davis does know, and later on that day, he jabbed back at Calipari: “See, he thought I didn’t know who he was.”

Because Anthony Davis has access to the Internet to find out about who Bill Russell is this obviously means Anthony Davis is the second-coming of Bill Russell.

Davis had better get used to it, though. From now until his soon-to-begin NBA career ends, he’ll be questioned about other legendary big men. Tim Duncan. Patrick Ewing. Hakeem Olajuwon. Shaquille O’Neal. Alonzo Mourning. Bill Walton.

He's probably get compared to these legends by idiotic sportswriters who refuse to allow Anthony Davis to write his own story and they insist on needlessly and prematurely comparing Davis to Hall of Fame centers. It's funny there have been quite a few "next Bill Russells" that have come through the draft over the last few decades and if they succeed (like O'Neal and Duncan have), then they are no longer compared to Russell and are seen as separate players from Russell. Why make the comparison prior to Davis even logging a minute in the NBA Why not allow Anthony Davis to write his own story, rather than comparing him to Bill Russell? Davis isn't even close to being what kind of player Bill Russell was. I know the real reason Davis gets compared to Bill Russell and that because it is easy to do. Sportswriters see a great defensive center and this reminds them of another great defensive center from 50 years ago. Then comes the comparison. If Anthony Davis does end up being of the greatest NBA centers of all-time I doubt he will be compared to Bill Russell by the end of his career (he will have his own legend other players are compared to), so why make this comparison before Russell has even stepped on an NBA floor or gotten drafted?

Dare we say, even Lew Alcindor?

Apparently, you dare!

Dare I say, you need to calm the fuck down and quit piling needless pressure on a future NBA player who hasn't even been drafted yet? I dare!

No, this isn’t an exercise in the limits of hyperbole.

Yes, actually this is exactly what this is. It is seeing a collegiate player who is still developing as a person and player and placing a lazy, pointless analogy on him for what you perceive his talent level will be when he enters the NBA. It's pure hyperbole to compare a 19 year old kid to Hall of Fame centers.

This is very typical of what the media does. They put athletes up into great company prematurely and then thrash that player when he doesn't reach those heights. We've seen it with LeBron James. He gets thrashed for doing something (whether it is not taking the last shot or joining up with Wade and Bosh in Miami), then the media revels in his failures (the loss in the NBA Finals to the Mavericks), but only to love him and say he's redeemed himself when he wins an NBA Title (someday soon...probably this year). An athlete needlessly gets built up to be "the next Bill Russell" only to get torn down from that mantle when he can't achieve it.

The first mention of Russell—from Pitino, after Louisville had the sky blotted out by Davis in the national semifinals Saturday—seemed a bit over the top at the time. Not any more.

Nope, it is still very much over the top. Anthony Davis hasn't even played in the NBA yet. There is a big difference in dominating at the college basketball level and dominating at the NBA level. I'm not saying Anthony Davis can't or won't dominate, but he is far from a finished product. It seems incredibly ridiculous to hear a 19 year old kid compared to a Hall of Fame center. A lot can change in the next five years that would make this comparison go away.

Speaking of limits, it’s now far too restricting just to discuss the 6-foot-10 Davis in the context of the greatest freshman seasons ever. Or in the context of simply college basketball, for that matter.

This is a topic that can actually be debated appropriately, especially considering Anthony Davis has played a full season as a freshman. If Anthony Davis had put in a season in the NBA already, then maybe a comparison to Hall of Fame centers could be appropriate.

It takes reaching into the pros to find players who compare to Davis, who controlled games without scoring.

Just off the top of my head, I am sure UNC fans (Kendall Marshall) and Ohio State fans (Aaron Craft) would disagree with this contention. On a lower level, you could throw Kansas fans (Jeff Withey) or Syracuse fans (Fab Melo) into this discussion as well. Craft and Marshall control a game at times (especially Marshall) without scoring. Maybe they don't do this on the level Anthony Davis does, but they did control college games without scoring this year.

Duncan’s signature game was Game 6 of the 2003 Finals, against the Nets, when his shot-blocking, rebounding and passing sparked a 19-0 fourth-quarter run that clinched the title. He didn’t score a single point in that run. Plus, he held Kenyon Martin to 3-for-23 shooting for the game. Martin’s reputation has never recovered.

So Anthony Davis is like Tim Duncan and Bill Russell combined! Hopefully he doesn't have a little bit of Shaquille O'Neal's weight gain in him too.

Also, Kenyon Martin's reputation didn't recover for other reasons that didn't involve Tim Duncan holding him to a 3-for-23 shooting game. Martin's reputation was also hurt by injuries and the fact he didn't seem to be worth the three first round picks the Nuggets traded him for after the 2003-2004 season. Of course there's also the whole "making fun of Alonzo Mourning's kidney disease" thing as well that probably hurt Martin's reputation too.

On Monday against Kansas, Davis scored six. That’s quintessential Celtics dynasty-era Russell.

Except it didn't take place in the NBA against an NBA team with NBA-quality players. Other than that, yeah, it was just like Bill Russell on the dynasty-era Celtics.

Yet, obviously, Davis can score: he hit 7-of-8 shots in the semifinal against Louisville and finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. He averaged 14.2 points a game on the season, for a team that proved it didn’t even need his scoring.

Yes, Davis can score and he has a nice jump shot. At the NBA level, he is going to have to develop some more post moves and probably put a on few pounds and not lose his tenacity and quickness on the defensive side of the ball in the process. Again, I'm not saying Davis can't do it, but the Bill Russell comparisons are premature and saying he is "ready to claim his place next to the NBA's all-time centers" is even more premature. Simmer down, now.

And it’s worth pointing out that he wasn’t doing this against undersized centers, out-of-position power forwards or lumbering giants.

He also wasn't doing this against NBA players.

His last three college games featured no less than four future NBA big men: Baylor’s Perry Jones,

He is too inconsistent and Jones isn't a center. He's a power forward and a coach-killer.

Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng,

He's a great shot blocker, but he isn't the biggest guy you will ever meet. He's rail thin...just like Davis is. Dieng isn't quite yet an NBA-quality center.

Kansas’s Thomas Robinson

Yeah, Robinson is a power forward. So if Davis was playing against Thomas Robinson he was going against undersized centers, which David Steele just said Davis wasn't going up against in the NCAA Tournament.

and Jeff Withey.

Notice Davis only scored six points against Withey. I feel like this needs to be mentioned since Steele was discussing Davis' scoring prowess against top competition. It should be acknowledged Davis struggled to score against a bigger player and more experienced player than he is. This is relevant.

So put the arguments about the quality of competition aside.

These are good college players, but they aren't good NBA players. If you don't understand the difference in Jeff Withey and Serge Ibaka then you probably should watch more NBA games.

Remember, Ewing was not considered a scoring threat when he entered the league, and he’d spent four years in school.

This is very true. Ewing did average 15.3 points during his college career. So over his career Ewing was about where Anthony Davis was in his one year of college. Cole Aldrich averaged 14 points per game one year in college and I'm pretty sure he hasn't had a ton of success in the NBA. So points per game in college are nice, but there it doesn't guarantee a player will continue that type of success in the NBA simply because we want him to.

Duncan’s did. Olajuwon’s mesmerizing footwork wasn’t something he’d brought from college. Shaq didn’t need much more than dunks at LSU.

Hasheem Thabust didn't have much of an offensive game coming out of UConn and look at how---nevermind.

My larger point is while David Steele is right, the fact Anthony Davis can be compared to these Hall of Fame centers coming out of college doesn't mean Anthony Davis will be a Hall of Fame center. He has a chance to be a great player, but comparing him to Bill Russell is premature and there are quite a few collegiate centers who were great defensively in college and it didn't translate to the NBA.

Just take a look at the NCAA men's basketball single season block leaders. There are big names on that list and there are no-names on that list.

Dwight Howard had practically no offensive game when he came straight from high school.

"Had" practically no game? Why is David Steele using the past tense?

Until Davis finds ways to score points in the NBA, we’ll be satisfied with the ones he takes away from other teams.

Absolutely. Let's let Anthony Davis do this and let's not get caught up in insisting that he be compared to Hall of Fame centers before he even steps on an NBA court.

Davis will have to be satisfied with constant pop quizzes about the greatest centers ever to play the game—and how close he’s getting to all of them.

How is Davis getting close to the greatest centers ever to play the game when he hasn't even been drafted yet, much less played in the NBA? Davis had a fantastic and historical freshman season. Can't David Steele just allow him to have that and see what kind of player he becomes in the NBA without making pointless comparisons to Hall of Fame centers? Apparently not.

Until Anthony Davis has stepped on an NBA court, he hasn't come close to any NBA Hall of Fame center. Give him time and space, and quit being stupid by acting like Anthony Davis is already a Hall of Fame center.


rich said...

From now until his soon-to-begin NBA career ends, he’ll be questioned about other legendary big men. Tim Duncan. Patrick Ewing. Hakeem Olajuwon. Shaquille O’Neal. Alonzo Mourning. Bill Walton.

Seriously? He hasn't even been drafted yet and we're putting him in that level of talent? How about we question him about Gasol, Howard, Griffin and Bynum first.

How about asking him about Sam Bowie, Derrick Coleman (solid, but not great), Darko, Hasheem Thabet, Marcus Fizer, Kwame Brown or Stromile Swift?

I think big men are difficult to gauge transitioning to the NBA in that in college, the number of guys stronger or bigger than you is significantly smaller than in the NBA.

At 6'10" 210, Davis isn't actually physically much different than the guys he'll be playing against in the NBA.

For example, one of the players Steele listed was Tim Duncan who though only 1 inch taller, has 45 pounds on him.

Granted, Davis just turned 19 and as a hockey fan, I watch 18 year olds get drafted and then bulk up before going pro, but the NBA doesn't have a minor leagues where he can improve his game and get bigger while making decent money, so Davis has to go to the NBA or stay in college (and play for free).

The point is that the NBA and NFL don't have places where players can play against opponents who will likely become pros. They go from playing in a league where 5-10% of the players go pro to everyone being a pro. At least in football, you typically have three or four years to base a judgement on.

Taking one college season and saying he has the potential to be Bill Russell is stupid. Bill Russell and Wilt were two of, if not the two, greatest players ever. They also had the advantage of being 5-6 inches taller than everyone they played.


Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I think we shouldn't even question Davis in terms of NBA centers and should just compare him to college centers at this point. I know its fun, but it is also very premature to compare him to any NBA centers...especially all-time greats.

I think Davis will be an excellent pro, if not just a great defensive player. But the NBA is a different world where nearly everyone is athletic as you are and guys like Jeff Withey are always there making it hard to get your shot off.

Comparing any college player to a Hall of Fame NBA player is just stupid. It's amazing how David Steele just casually throws this all out there as if he isn't comparing a 19 year old kid to the greatest centers of all-time in the NBA.