NBA 75 Series: #49 Anthony Davis
Ranked #49 in my NBA 75 Greatest Players of All Time https://www.djssportsshow.com/post/nba-75-greatest-players-of-all-time , who has been injury-prone the last two seasons, is one of the most unique bigs in NBA History. From being able to handle the rock, guard two players at once in a pick-and-roll, and anchor a defense, is Chicago native, Anthony “The Brow” Davis. Anthony Marshon Davis Jr was born on March 11, 1993, in Chicago, Illinois to his mother Eranier Davis and father Anthony Davis Sr.
Davis grew up on the South Side of Chicago and played high school basketball at Perspectives Charter School, a small school that he had attended from sixth grade. His high school team played in the Blue Division of the Chicago High School league, which was lower competition, so they didn’t get the national attention by the media as schools such as Montverde Academy, and so forth. It was such a small school, in middle school Davis’s teams would practice at a church.
Davis was unknown by most early on in high school, as he stood just 6 feet tall and mostly shot three-pointers from the corner. But, he would continue to grow, sprouting to 6-foot-8 by his junior season without any knee pains that most usually go through when experiencing a growth spurt. The spring of his junior season, Davis was invited to the NBA Top 100 Camp and dominated the competition. A slew of offers were coming in from Division I schools such as Syracuse, Kentucky, DePaul, and others.
He verbally committed to the University of Kentucky, to play for John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats on August 13, 2010, and signed his national letter of intent on November 10, 2010. By the time Davis was a senior, he stood 6-foot-10 and was a pre-season first team all-state selection by the Sun Times. Davis was dominant his senior year with averages of 32 points, 22 rebounds, and an eye-rubbing seven blocks per game. He was so unique in the way he could bring the ball up the court and shoot from the outside, due to playing guard all his life until his massive growth spurt which helped him in one year go from unranked to the best player in the country, a meteoric rise unlike any other I have seen in one season.
He would be named a McDonald’s All-American, play in the Jordan Brand Classic, Nike Hoops Summit, be named first team USA Today All-USA high school selection, and many other awards. Davis would then prepare for what would be his one and only season for the Wildcats, where he was the presumptive favorite to go first overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. Davis would prove that assumption right and even exceed expectations, by going on to lead Kentucky to a National Championship while sweeping all the awards from National Player of the Year, SEC Player of the Year, NABC Defensive Player of the Year, NCAA Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, and USBWA National Freshman of the Year.
He would average 14.7 points on 65% shooting from the field along with 10.7 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and was an eraser at the rim with 4.7 blocks per game, being able to guard the pick-and-roll exceptionally well and could move like a guard on both ends of the court. Davis was so transcendent defensively that he had more blocks per game individually than any other Division I team had that season, which is bonkers! He broke the SEC record for blocked shots with 116, surpassing former LSU star Shaquille O’Neal , and set Kentucky’s single-season record for blocked shots in a season, surpassing Melvin Turpin, and Andre Riddick.
Ultimately, Davis has been one of the best two-way bigs in league history since coming in as a highly recruited prospect out of Kentucky and drafted No.1 overall in 2012 by the New Orleans Hornets. Davis has been astounding throughout his career, making the All-Star game every year of his career, except his rookie season, and even winning a gold medal before he ever stepped foot on an NBA court.
A three-time leader in blocks (2014, 2015, 2018), Davis already ranks top 50 all-time on the career leaderboard with 1,325. He was the best player on the Hornets/Pelicans in his 7 seasons there but he didn’t have much postseason success, only reaching the second round once in 2018, and also due to a lack of a passable supporting cast.
He would eventually force his way out of New Orleans, which included a hysterical “That's All Folks” T-shirt to join the Lakers with LeBron and form one of the most dynamic duos in the league. In his first season there, he made the All-NBA and the All-Defensive First Team to go along with winning his first NBA title over the Miami Heat in 2020. He has sadly missed a chunk of games each season throughout his career, only playing over 70 games in a season just twice in his 10 year career thus far. He’s been derailed by injuries the last two seasons and even Barkley has been calling him “Street Clothes,” due to him always missing games.
Davis' lack of an MVP, Finals MVP, or DPOY keeps him from reaching higher on this list thus far in his career, but, if he obtains one of those and wins more titles he can easily rise to the top 30-35 by the time his career is done. Davis is an eight-time All-Star, All-Star Game MVP, four-time All-NBA (all being first team), and a four-time All-Defensive selection.
Davis is arguably the most talented power forward to play the game, but if he wants to reach Kevin Garnett’s, Dirk Nowitzki's, or Barkley’s level he will need to stay healthy, along with capturing an MVP, Finals MVP, or DPOY. He surely has the talent to pass Dirk and Barkley because of his elite defensive ability, something those two players didn’t have on the level of AD. However, to pass Garnett he will need to win a DPOY, along with an MVP or another title to pass the Minnesota legend.
Davis is a unicorn in today’s games of unicorns and look for him to skyrocket up this list in the next five to eight years as his career plays out, if he can stay healthy.