Apr 2, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Anthony Davis (23) blocks the shot of Kansas Jayhawks guard Tyshawn Taylor (10) during the first half of the finals in the 2012 NCAA men

2012 NBA Draft: Anthony Davis has a chance to be a modern day Bill Russell


Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The 2012 NBA Draft is upon is and that means plenty of rumors, trade talks and speculation over the next 48 hours. One thing that won’t be speculated is who the New Orleans Hornets will be drafting first overall.

Anthony Davis will be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. We’ve known this for awhile now. Basically since he began playing college basketball it was clear he was the best player in the country.

Davis at 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.7 blocks per game in his one season at Kentucky. He led them to a national championship season in which the Wildcats lost just two games.

Davis’ spot in the 2012 Draft will not be questioned but the kind of pro that he will become is certainly of some debate.

Davis will be most comfortable playing power forward in the NBA although he will be able to play some center too depending the on the team and situation. He is 6-foot-10 but only 222 pounds right now so he’s not going to overpower you.

The way that Davis will overpower you is with his skills and basketball savvy. Before his senior year of high school, Davis was a 6-foot-3 point guard not drawing much attention at all from colleges.

When you hear that now, it isn’t surprising at all. He can handle the ball like a guard, moves like a guard and has instincts most big men take a long time to develop. The best part about Davis is that he blossomed so late and for a number of reasons, most importantly being that he was not tainted by the AAU circuits.

Davis was never a prima donna who expected anything to come his way. He grew up in a poor family in Chicago and his rise to the national stage happened so fast there was never any time for an ego to grow.

Davis has been compared to a number of NBA players. Marcus Camby comes to mind immediately although it feels like Davis’ ceiling would be higher than that. There have also been comparisons to Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire.

Bill Russell is also a name that has come up. The 11-time NBA champion is rarely compared to NBA players nowadays. It makes sense. It was a different game in the 1960s so it’s hard to compare that era to today. Russell was only about 6-foot-9 and a modern day version of him in the NBA would look something like Thaddeus Young so it’s hard to imagine him impacting today’s game anywhere near to how he did in the ‘60s.

But what would Russell look like today? Not simply if you placed Russell in today’s game but what would the Russell equivalent be in 2012?

Anthony Davis might be it.

Russell embodied everything about team basketball. He didn’t score the most points but he got the most rebounds, blocked the most shots, ignited the most fast breaks and won the most championships.

Davis will never lead the NBA in scoring but he might become the best at everything else. If Davis peaks at 19-14-4-5 (points-rebounds-assists-blocks), isn’t that something that the modern day Russell would average.

What if Davis averages that and is simultaneously the best teammate in the NBA. He’s the perfect defensive anchor to block shots, rebound, start fast breaks and run the floor, everything that Russell was so perfect at.

Davis isn’t going to win 11 championships in today’s NBA but Russell wouldn’t have either. The equivalent of 11 would be something like 6 or 7 for Davis. It seems pretty impossible but you never know.

Alright, so comparing Davis to Russell already isn’t totally fair. But it’s a decent comparison and “best possible scenario for the 2012 No. 1 overall pick.”

The ultimate point is: if you had to think up a modern day Bill Russell, Anthony Davis sounds about right.

Tags: Anthony Davis Bill Russell Boston Celtics Kentucky Wildcats NBA Draft New Orleans Hornets