Anthony Davis In Space

Kentucky's freshman phenom isn't just changing shots, he's changing the game.
Share |

University of Kentucky supporters read about their team voraciously, basking in positive coverage the way many smaller fan bases get off on “getting no love” from major media outlets. Their guilelessness is completely at odds with coach John Calipari’s reputation as the cynical sleaze forever winking a gimlet eye at NCAA sanctimony. Much of their current enthusiasm is directed at Anthony Davis, the 19-year-old big man as famed for his unibrow (and his uncertain feelings about it) as his transformative play.


DavisMight

These fans trawl for Kentucky shrine materials, erecting miniature cathedrals on insanely popular message boards and YouTube beachheads. A representative Wildcat paean begins in the middle of a mundane, and seemingly irrelevant, UNC-Maryland game. The 6’11” John Henson—athletic, impossibly long—calmly swishes a fading jumper a few feet below the elbow. The ball is released above high above his head. The defender’s raised hand is perfunctory, futile. An announcer gleefully exclaims, “He put it where no one, I mean no one could get it!”

The clip fades to black and white text slowly materializes: “Did He Really Just Say That?” The gleeful announcer’s exclamation is replayed, followed by more text: “Big Blue Nation Doesnt Forget” [sic], which lingers for a beat before it’s shoved out of the way by the final play of this year’s heart-squeezing UNC-Kentucky duel. North Carolina is down by one, with a few ticks left. Henson gets the ball at that exact spot where he calmly swished a jumper against Maryland. He is open.

As Henson leaves the ground for the same fadeaway, Davis pivots in John’s direction from the middle of the paint. Davis does a quick hop toward Henson, as though priming a diving board. After the hop, Davis vaults at a 45-degree angle, his arm extending like a triggered switchblade. Before the ball even leaves Henson’s hand, Davis pokes it straight up in the air, where it floats softly like a volleyball set up. Davis lands lightly, knees bent. Henson stumbles on the way down and buckles backwards. The UNC center, himself a prolific shotblocker, is used to nullifying a scorer’s sense of place; he appears scrambled when on the receiving end of Davis’s unexpected rejection. Anthony immediately bounces high and snatches the rock. Game over.

Davis has jumped three times to Henson’s once, making a play on each move. This is per usual for AD. On defense, he isn’t just faster, or one step ahead. He’s operating at a different frequency, to such an extent that it totally disorients even the sharpest and most athletic opponents. He disrupts not only their timing, but their confidence in time itself.

Blocked shots are often a reaction, the coincidental marriage of spinal reflex to an unusually long limb. Otherwise unaware players can shine in this aspect of hoops, which does not reflect well on the skill as an art form. Tyrus Thomas and Javale McGee come to mind as players who struggle with nuanced aspects of defense, and yet swat shots with ease.

Physically, Anthony Davis is similar to Thomas and McGee. Yet in Davis’s case, the body is not taken for granted and expected to produce. It’s merely the most evident facet of a complex defensive identity; Davis’s physique is practically worshipped. The university gave away 30,000 Anthony Davis posters wherein the kid’s 7-4 wingspan extended over ten basketballs. The poster started selling on Ebay for $150 dollars per sheet (that’s $1500 for the full likeness), forcing Kentucky to begin a process of sending cease and desist letters to sellers, as non-NCAA members are not allowed to profit from “amateur” athletes. Kentucky simply did not anticipate that the poster would stoke such want among Wildcat obsessives. Yet fans were just that desperate for a demonstrative explanation of how the hell Anthony Davis, and his 4.6 blocks per game, happen.

At the risk of hyperbole, there has never been another defender like Anthony Davis. He doesn’t merely react, or anticipate. A former guard who grew eight inches in 18 months, Davis controls a big man’s game with a small man’s bag of tricks. Anthony Davis turns the art of shot-blocking into a manipulation of the opposition.

My DVR holds a cherished example from Kentucky’s February 25th game against Vanderbilt. Vandy’s small forward Lance Goulbourne receives a pass near the hoop and Anthony Davis meets him with a timely rotation. Davis pauses, waits for Goulbourne to rise high off the ground. Freeze the moment and Goulbourne is two head-lengths above Davis, with the ball raised up for the shot. In that frozen frame, Anthony’s feet are planted on the floor, knees crooked in a tensile pose. Suddenly, an invisible geyser blasts Davis upwards as he slaps the ball against the backboard. Goulbourne whips his head, his expression a blur of utter confusion. He fell for it. Like a spider, Anthony’s length is an ancillary weapon, a complement to his booby-trapping of what appears to be open space.

Davis also operates with a facility, and efficiency, simply not seen in the paint. When Marcus Camby, a frequent comparison for Davis, averaged 3.6 blocks as a freshman at UMass, he needed nearly as many fouls (3.48) to get there. Davis averages just two fouls per game, fewer than three other Kentucky starters. This is precision in the guise of havoc.

In college, Anthony Davis is otherworldly, and will almost certainly be the top pick in this summer’s NBA draft. As a pro, he has the chance to fundamentally alter our conception of defense. This has as much to do with the ways in which basketball has evolved over the last ten years as it does Davis himself.

In the nineties, the sport was restricted by the man-to-man edict. Attempts to shade or shift defensive help toward an operating post player would get whistled as “illegal defense.” The NBA opened defenses in the 2001-2002 season, despite an intense anti-reform lobbying effort from Pat Riley and Rudy Tomjanovich. Coaches slowly warmed to their new defensive dimensions, a movement that ran parallel to the more publicized new wave of fast-paced, guard-driven offenses. Perhaps this defensive shift was muted because guarding an area was arbitrarily stigmatized as an unmanly abdication of responsibility; it also took a while for coaches to adjust. Still, today’s stingiest five-man crews now shift about as one ominous entity, even if the division of labor is not equal. Since these units are more devoted to collapsing offensive space than hand-checking foes into oblivion, the most responsibility falls on the best space-shrinkers. This is why centers like Tyson Chandler and Joakim Noah command huge salaries.

Offenses have responded in this space race with sharpshooting power forwards who, by further expanding space, burden defensive coverage. The position is now stacked with net shredders like Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Kevin Love.

Anthony Davis is the antidote to this new breed of player—the archetypal new school shut-down four. He would be, in effect, the first of his kind. Kevin Garnett came closest to defining this role, but his career straddles the pre-zone and post-zone eras. Josh Smith suffers for his lack of height and a series of coaches who have simply never been able to conceive of this role for him. Davis has the potential to not only star at the next level, but set off a chain reaction of new ideas. Here’s a player who blocks three pointers with regularity, while simultaneously daring any player to face off with him in the paint. Ubiquity itself, in other words, capable of not only shrinking but commandeering the space that NBA offenses so cherish—pushing back their advances with his own creativity.

Illustration: Joseph Applegate


Share |

Comments

This continually is amazing to me how bloggers such as yourself can find the time and also the dedication to keep on creating fantastic blog posts. This is wonderful and one of my have to read on the web. I simply want to say thanks project supremacy

I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one.I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation... buy website traffic

Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which I need, thanks to offer such a helpful information here. High PR Blog comments

The quality of your articles and contents is great. astrology answers reviews

I continuously continue coming to your website once more simply in case you have posted new contents.
guest blogging services

I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Just wanted to tell you that you have people reserch papers

This article has some vast and valuable information about this subject.fat diminisher system

I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Just wanted to tell you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. The information you provide is really very good...app empire

I found your this post while searching for some related information on blog search...Its a good post..keep posting and update the information...blog

much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back in the future. All the bestielts test

This program will be one of the programs that make a lot of people like to Google. Google is very necessary to understand the technologythyroid supplement reviews

The UNC center, himself a prolific shotblocker, is used to nullifying a scorer’s sense of place; he appears scrambled when on the receiving end of Davis’s unexpected rejection. Anthony immediately bounces high and snatches the rock. Game over.
monster legends hile |
hack clash of clans

Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work showbox for pc

Pivotal words and comprehensions help to clarify and guide a reader to different ideas and parts of sentences. They help connect one phrase to the next and direct your attention. seo marketing tools

It’s really such nice information to get advantage from. Anthony Morrison Mobile Optin

just have the good sense to make jokes about whatever that Now/Next happens to be. Maybe that's progress.,.......click here

ESPN's bickering pundits, just have the good sense to make jokes about whatever that Now/Next happens to be. Maybe that's progress....magnetic secondary glazing

unlike ESPN's bickering pundits, just have the good sense to make jokes about whatever that Now/Next happens to be. Maybe that's progress...emf shielding paint

good sense to make jokes about whatever that Now/Next happens to be. Maybe that's progress.... car from delhi to jaipur

the best ways to standardise the look and feel of your study and it give uniforms to all of your employees for daily wear...emf shielding paint

I used to always check blog posts within the first hours in the break of day, because I like to get information increasingly more..how to build patio cover

I generally don’t comment in the Blogs but your blog is the only one that forced me to, amazing work...DUI defense attorney

Just saying thanks wouldn’t just be enough, for the fantastic fluency in your writing.getpsn.net

They just couldn't do it for 40 minutes straight, with UK driving hard right back. That's why this was a foul-fest: IU ran out of gas and hacked on defense love hentai manga on tumblr shares

The written piece is truly fruitful for me personally; continue posting these types of articles. Macfarlane Group Mark Curry

This post is really valuable that designed for the new visitors. Pleasing work, keep on writing.
cash advance with savings account

WordPress for a couple of with this blogs and forums nonetheless wanting to switch one of them over to your stand akin to you . mobile optin

It’s a classic great for me to go to this blog site, it offers helpful suggestions life insurance policy terms quote

The written piece is truly fruitful for me personally; continue posting these types of articles. payday loans in va

Hurrah, that’s what I was trying to get for, just what a stuff Presented at this blog!! Thanks admin of the site. http://www.seriouslytrademarks.com.au/

This is really a nice and informative, containing all information and also has a great impact on the new technology. Thanks for sharing it iphone 6 repair

Whether somebody pursuit of his vital thing, hence he or she desires to be accessible that at length, hence that thing is maintained over here. MobileOptin Bonus

This is surely a very good blog, thanks a lot for sharing such nice information here Removable Wallpaper

Really it is quite edifying article just that I was on the lookout for. car insurance

I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one.I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation... buy website traffic

Here at this site really the fastidious material collection so that everybody can enjoy a lot.
term life insurance

Very useful for me. as it contains lot of information. I Always prefer to read The Quality and glad I found this thing in you post.. Designer Knock off Faux Wallets

The written piece is truly fruitful for me personally; continue posting these types of articles.Sonia ricotti

I have seen many websites but this one is totally different from others, it’s quite useful, and interesting not a garbage like others.
cars insurance

These fans trawl for Kentucky shrine materials, erecting miniature cathedrals on insanely popular message boards and YouTube beachheads. buy soundcloud plays

Wonderful, just what a blog it is! This blog has provided the helpful data to us continue the good work. download anything

There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job. http://www.protonbeamtherapy.org

Anthony’s feet are planted on the floor, knees crooked in a tensile pose. Suddenly, an invisible geyser blasts Davis upwards as he slaps the ball against the backboard. cheap ticket to pakistan

I was getting bore since morning but as soon as I got this link & reached at this blog, I turned into fresh and also joyful too.life insurance family plans

Remarkable blog! I have no words to praise, it has really allured me. http://www.realseoblog.com/

That’s really amazing and extraordinary blogs & can help those who get issues in searching this type of information. pay day loans

Hmm that’s so pleasing; carry on the excellent work I’ll again visit your blogs to learn more. online payday loan lenders only

Quickly this site will indisputably be famous among all blogging people, because of its fastidious articles or reviews. download software

This is an excellent post I seen thanks to share it. It is really what I wanted to see hope in future you will continue for sharing such a excellent post. Lavazza

Special thanks for providing such great details, it’s quite impressive post. useful reference