Anthony Davis Should Have Stayed at Kentucky and John Calipari Should Return to the NBA

5/13/12 in NBA   |   Jnewman482   |   134 respect

Mar 31, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari talks to Anthony Davis (23) against the during the first half in the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball Final Four at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIREAnthony Davis has declared his eligibility for the 2012 NBA Draft and is a lock for the No. 1 pick. Meanwhile, his former head coach John Calipari has agreed to remain with the Kentucky Wildcats for at least the next seven years. If that sounds like a long time to be committed, it might be worth it for the simple fact that his contract has him set to earn $36.5 million, making him the highest paid college basketball coach in the country. 

It’s too late for Anthony Davis to change his mind and return to Kentucky, but Calipari could get out of his deal if he wanted. Right now might be the perfect time because there’s an opportunity in the NBA staring him in the face that he should consider. And it isn’t the New York Knicks job.

Meanwhile, for Anthony Davis, his most likely destination is in Charlotte with the Bobcats, which had the lowest winning percentage in NBA history this season. But even if Davis doesn’t wind up with the Bobcats, he will be joining a roster full of players who are used to struggling to win games.

Well, being added to a mediocre team will make it even tougher for him to develop into the All-Star he is expected to become. The players and coaches on the Bobcats (or whichever team he lands with) will be looking to lean on him immediately rather than be patient and help him become a better player.

The truth is that Calipari would be much better off joining the Charlotte Bobcats than Davis would. In fact, heading to Charlotte would be the best career move that Calipari could make and nothing would benefit Davis more than returning for a couple more seasons in college.  

Now let’s focus on Davis for a while and we’ll get back to Calipari. 

After winning the national championship, Anthony Davis decided to enter the NBA Draft along with the rest of the starting lineup for Kentucky. The Charlotte Bobcats have 25 percent odds to get him with the first pick of the draft while the Washington Wizards have a 19.9 percent chance and the Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Hornets each have 13.8 percent odds. The rest of the teams with the lottery picks in the NBA Draft still have a shot at taking the Uniblocker with the No. 1 overall pick, but none of them has a chance over 10 percent. 

It matters, but not as much as you might think, which lottery team takes Davis with the first pick. Davis is not ready to be the leader of an NBA franchise. Already, he is being classified as a potential Tim Duncan or a potential Kevin Garnett, but the key word is “potential.” He isn’t there yet.

Legendary coach Larry Brown has upped the expectations though by saying that he thinks Davis will be a superstar. He claimed in a radio interview that Davis will lead whatever NBA team he plays for to 50 wins.

Now lets take a closer look at Davis. He’s a shot-blocking machine, he has a decent range for a big man, and he can flat-out rebound. Last season, he dominated college basketball by leading the No. 1 Wildcats in both scoring and rebounding with 14.2 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game. He also led the nation in blocks with 4.7 a game.

The majority of Davis’ points came naturally through put-backs from offensive rebounds, alley-oops, and layups in close. Now he was unique in that he didn’t need to score in order to have an impact on a game. In the national championship game against Kansas, Davis was 1-10 from the floor and scored only six points. However, he was able to fill up the stat sheet with 16 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and six blocks to help Kentucky win by eight. Imagine if he had shot well that night. It probably would have been a blowout.

It’s remarkable that Davis was able to dominate the game even when he couldn’t get the ball in the basket. More generally, his numbers are impressive for a regular season when his team was challenged each and every game by opponents trying to prove themselves by knocking off the No. 1 team in the country.

But, the fact remains that Davis is raw. He does not have a legitimate post-up game and his 18-foot jumper is not reliable yet. Not to mention, he still needs to put on 30 pounds. In college, he was tall enough to outrebound everyone, but in the NBA he will need a body that will help him box out. Right now, Anthony Davis is 6-10 and 220 pounds.

When Tim Duncan left Wake Forest after his senior year, he was 6-10 and weighed 248 pounds. Now, he is 6-11 and 255 pounds. Not much has changed because he grew into his body over his four years in college. When he entered the NBA in 1997, he was ready not just mentally but also physically.

Looking at the other player Davis is often compared to, Kevin Garnett is now 6-11 and 253 pounds. He only scored 10 points a game in his first season in the NBA and played in just 43 of 80 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves. When he left high school to enter the NBA Draft, he was 6-11 and weighed only 215 pounds. It is clear that Garnett was not physically or mentally ready to join the professionals in 1995. Just look at the statistics. 
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