Fantasy Basketball Rookie Report Card: Anthony Davis
“Fear the Brow”.
The Hornets drafted Anthony Davis at #1 with the full expectation of him developing into a franchise-changing talent. While the physical demands of the NBA would ensure rough concourse at times for the 19-year old, his freakish athleticism, length and mobility at 6’10 would bridge the strength gap. This premise has held true through the season’s opening four months; when he’s actually been in uniform that is. Injuries have unfortunately thwarted any chance for Davis to perform at optimal levels. Having already been sidelined on multiple occasions for head, ankle and knee issues, Davis missed the 14th game of his rookie campaign last night due to a sprained shoulder. He’s added substantial muscle mass, but his frail frame will always remain.
Injuries aside, the action between the lines is what we’re most concerned with. Despite being limited to 27 minutes, Davis is putting up 13 points and seven rebounds per night (22 & 13/48 minutes). Given that his offensive arsenal is heavily reliant on crashing the glass and finishing above the rim, his 51% accuracy from the field is par for the course. According to Vorped.com short charts, of his 186 makes inside the paint, 46 have resulted in a dunk, 34 in a tip-in and 25 in an alley-oop — he’s shooting 68% below the restricted area. When forced to utilize his body and finish below rim level, however, he’s converting just 49% of his layup attempts and has seen shots sent back 31 times. Davis has been assisted on 76% of his buckets; with special thanks being owed to point guard Greivis Vasquez who’s setup AD on 116 occasions. In a similar vein, 12.6% of his points have come running with Vasquez in transition.
Davis possesses a soft touch from the perimeter (74% FT), but the in-action results don’t yet bear that out. He’s taken 138 mid-range jumpers with only a 27% success rate. His willingness to attempt such a high frequency of open jump shots is encouraging, the outcome notwithstanding, and speaks to his improved overall confidence level. That area of his game will bear fruit in time with improved polish and comfort in his role. Back-to-the-basket post moves are not currently, and likely will never be, a tried and true facet of his repertoire. He’s attempted six hook shots, or varieties thereof, all season.
The defensive end is where Davis’ presence was anticipated to be supremely felt. The statistics are impressive: 1.8 blocks per game for a 5.29% block rate (2nd behind Andre Drummond among rookies), and 1.2 steals per game for a 2.29% steal rate (behind only Thaddeus Young and Blake Griffin among starting power forwards). His lack of physicality has resulted in bullying from opposing PF’s, knocking him off balance and limiting his vertical explosiveness. It is for this reason that a significant percentage of his swatting is accomplished in help defense rather than on-ball post D. Additionally, critics will point to Davis’ disposition for seeking out the blocked shot rather than playing within the team structure. But nobody in their right mind, even the harshest of critics, would downplay his potential as a game wrecker defensively with once in a decade (if that) physical gifts.
At the end of the day, Davis has essentially come as advertised (sans the injuries). It’s hard to quantify the importance of a single player on a team 19 games below .500, but advanced metrics smile fondly upon his value. According to John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating, Davis sits at 20.72 good for 22nd in the league, with an Estimated Wins Added (EWA) figure of 5.7. His true impact won’t be felt until New Orleans assembles a stable core of talent around him. Until then, he’ll be most cherished as an almighty category stuffer in fantasy circles.
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