How many players can go 10% from the field in the National Championship Game and still be the runaway candidate for Most Outstanding Player honors? How many players can have as many made field goals in a game as he does eyebrow
s and still be the most effective player on the floor? How many players can be this fucking ugly and still be the talk of the nation? Or is he the talk of the nation because he is so hideous?
I guess the most important thing we have to address is the unibrow. I don’t think there exists an interview where anyone has directly asked Anthony Davis about his unibrow. It’s just one of those things you don’t ask. But for whoever ends up asking him about the unibrow in an interview published in a relevant source, I will name my one of my son/daughter’s middle names after you.
Going back to the unibrow, there is no doubt in my mind that Anthony Davis has to keep it. It’s his signature thing. Iverson had the headband, sleeve, and cornrows, Mutombo had the finger wag, LeBron has the hairline/headband combo, Nash and Dirk have the floppy hair, Kevin Garnett has the chest pounding and barking like a wild dog, and Larry Bird is white. To be a memorable star in the league, you need a signature ‘thing’ that has no relationship with your basketball ability. If not, you’re just one of the boring stars that get lost and underrated through time, a la Tim Duncan and Bill Russell. If you have that thing, you have to keep it.
In many respects, Anthony Davis is like Susan Boyle. Both extremely talented at what they do and universally recognized for their talent, but can’t be thought of without bringing up their lack of good looks. If Susan Boyle was a regular middle-aged woman, and Anthony Davis had two eyebrows, would people care as much? Boyle would just be another gifted singer entering a talent contest, and Anthony Davis would just be another talented college basketball player.
Do you guys remember Susan Boyle’s second performance where she had a whole make up team, got her hair done, and performed in a shiny dark dress? Susan Boyle’s fame was based on that plump and modest looking lady who shocked the world with her voice. In her next performance, she erased the image she was famous for. Anthony Davis has to keep the brow. His freshman season was his big audition that caught the world’s attention, and at this point, the unibrow is part of his integrity as a human being.
Now that we got that brow-t of the way, I want to announced that I’ve been doing some reading over spring break. I’ve read The Book of Basketball by my life idol Bill Simmons, The Rivalry by John Taylor, and… The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. What all three of these books tell me is that Russell was the single most formidable defensive force to plant his feet on the hardwood. See that word diarrhea? That’s how dominant he was. I forget who said this, but Russell would make players miss layups on a 1-on-nothing fast break just because those players felt that a trailing Russell was going to swat their shot.
How is this possible? Some of the greatest defensive big men I’ve seen in my time lifetime are (in no particular order): Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and Ben Wallace, Dwight Howard and Tyson Chandler. As good as they are/were, I have never seen a moment when the presence of these defensive anchors threatened a player on offense to that magnitude. I don’t think there was ever a moment when guys like Shaq, Kobe, and
LeBron felt that they couldn’t take it right to these guys in the paint and put in two points.
And then there’s Anthony Davis.
That is a glimpse of that insane Russell leve of defense. The level where even the presence of a player can throw off his whole game. If that was Jeff Withey, Terrence Jones, John Henson… Any other player in the tournament, Elijah Johnson fires that 3. But the vision of a googly-eyed face (accented by a horizontal strip of bushy hair) on a 6’10 frame, sprinting at you with his outstretched arms, ready to reject the shit out of your shot attempt? Even Kobe Bryant hesitates before attempting that jumper.
If Anthony Davis was a basketball team, he would be 28th in the nation in blocks. Forget the Big Fundamental or the Big Ticket. The Big Eyebrow is the next great defensive player. People are calling him a KG-Lite, but that’s just because they are scared to prematurely rank a player that has never stepped onto an NBA court. Kevin Durant was thought of as a George Gervin-Lite, and some people’s wannabe-conservative evaluation of the Durantula was that he would be a ‘slightly better Rashard Lewis.’ It would have been a bold statement on draft day to say Derrick Rose would become the best point guard in the NBA. Here’s the thing; in every draft, there is the possibility of a player breaking through into the NBA’s elite company, and in this draft, all signs are pointing to this one guy.
Anthony Davis will be a better defensive player than Kevin Garnett. In his rookie NBA season, he will be a Tyson Chandler in a Power Forward’s body. A true defensive anchor, someone capable of disrupting every play, and a very active big man not afraid to switch onto perimeter players if that’s how the cards play.
No one knows exactly how good his offense is, but in a league where effective defensive big men are hard to come by ($7 million for Kwame Brown anyone?), he is automatically one of the most valuable players in the NBA. He’s one of those growth spurt guys a la Scottie Pippen, and is blessed with guard skills while in a forward’s body. Who knows what his ceiling is? He’s never had a chance to show what he is truly capable of on offense, yet he was still able to average 14 points a game on a very efficient 62.3% from the field. Take out all the 3s he’s attempted this season, and that field goal percentage is an astounding 65.3%. Compare him to two of the better low post scorers to come out of the draft in recent years- LaMarcus Aldridge averaged 15 points a game on 56.9% from the field in his sophomore season. Brook Lopez averaged 19 points a game on 46.8% shooting his sophomore year. Davis is putting up comparable numbers in his freshman season, on a team where on any given night, he can be the first or last option on offense.
Which NBA team should he go to? That’s up to the NBA Lotte-rig to decide, but the team I’d like to see him on the most other than my beloved Warriors is the Detroit Pistons. As a capable scorer and skilled passer, Greg Monroe is becoming a legitimate offensive threat at the Center position. His rebounding is solid, but his interior defense is suspect, and he provides no shot-blocking. Anthony Davis would be the ultimate complement to Greg Monroe, except that is an insult to Anthony Davis. So to rephrase, Greg Monroe would be a pretty good complement to Anthony Davis. A core based on Knight, Davis, and Monroe with solid role players like Jerebko and Daye would be an excellent foundation for a rebuilding franchise like the Pistons, a team that hasn’t sniffed the playoffs since the departure of Chauncey Billups. And the absolute best part of Anthony Davis in Motor City?
His back up is Charlie Villanueva.