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Anthony Davis is a Stud, But Inconsistent Play Should Still be Expected

Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t going to be as hot-takey as many of you will find it. No matter. Choose to read which words you want to see while ignoring the context surrounding the negative adjectives. Eh. So here it goes…

Anthony Davis isn’t nearly as great as everyone has said he is.

Okay. Now breathe. Take a second. It’s okay, I promise.

Here’s the thing: The ceremonial baptism of Anthony Davis the superstar isn’t wrong. He’s exactly that. A tremendously gifted player, one who should be nearly everyone’s first pick if they were starting a franchise, and a guy who’s still growing into the seemingly limitless potential which he has.

That last part is rather important. Anthony Davis isn’t even remotely close to being a finished product. In fact, he’s closer to being the worst version of himself than he is to being the eater-of-worlds everyone expects him to be. Except we’ve already anointed him as this eater-of-said-worlds, for whatever reason.

Lost during all the Davis is the goat-already hoopla is the fact that young players tend to be inconsistent. More so, big men — guys hovering over 6’9″ or so — tend to take longer to develop than guards. Furthermore, Anthony Davis isn’t your conventional big, as his frame wasn’t gifted to him until he was a senior in high school — meaning, he’s new to his own body.

This isn’t necessarily an overreaction to Davis’s poor performance in the opener against Golden State, either. It also is not to say Anthony Davis is inconsistent through a conventional lens. Because he isn’t. It’s to point out that it’d actually be more absurd to use his opening-night game as some sort of proof of his fraudulence than it’d be to say, “Hey, he’s super-duper young. Stuff happens with 22 year-old, 6’10” prodigies from time to time.”

There were some troubling instances of Davis being too good for his own good on Tuesday night, however.

No matter how great the player, we’ll all beg them to improve or do something more. For LeBron James, it was to get to the post more. For Stephen Curry, it was simply to stay healthy. It’s been different for Davis, as there are no truly glaring holes in his game, but he went about improving his perimeter game in advance of the obvious criticisms which would lay ahead from those in the hot-take, embrace debate, clicks business.

The issue which seemed to haunt Davis on Tuesday wasn’t only his struggling and somewhat growing agitation from his inability to get going, it was that he floated around on the perimeter far too much — which resulted in this large, athletic, incredible basketball player in getting only one offensive rebound.

Not that Davis is a historically great offensive rebounder, but that’s an area where you’d hope a marvel like Anthony Davis can help make up for the rest of his team’s shortcomings. Again, not all that fair to put that kind of pressure on him as he’s still only a 22 year-old, yet he’s supposed to be a superstar on the same level as LeBron and Kevin Durant.

Expectations are a b!9t*h or whatever. Likely whatever, but the semantics are actually important to this discussion.

In all seriousness, some players can become too infatuated with the improvement of their game. Especially bigs, as they tend to enjoy floating beyond the three-point line after “becoming better” in that area more than guards who become better at getting to the hoop, well, go to the rim.

Rasheed Wallace is a perfect example of how being really good at something can sometimes backfire. Sheed, who during many instances in his career was a legitimate top 10 talent in the league, fell so much in love with shooting the long ball that he failed to use what offensive weapon he had best — his post game — to his benefit. It was almost as if Wallace’s overall offensive ability actually took away from his efficiency because he was so enamored with the three that it hurt his game — relatively speaking, of course.

Davis wasn’t even close to being as enthralled with the three on Tuesday night as Sheed was at any point of his career. He only took a couple of them. However, he did settle for more mid-range jumpers than you’d like one of the game’s greatest athletic specimens to take. Also worth mentioning, which isn’t exactly a statistic, he simply hovers around the perimeter far too much. He’s 6’10”, and yes his offensive game from that spot is better than most, but his dominance comes from getting to the bucket and being a far better post position magician than every other large human in the NBA. He needs to butter his bread where it’s the most moist…near the bucket.

This is all truly splitting hairs as far as Anthony Davis is concerned. He’s a true superstar. Then again, he isn’t as dominant as LeBron James is on a consistent basis or Durant when he’s healthy, but that margin of consistency is so small that it’s thinner than an eyelash. All of which only continues to point to the incredible, quick growth Davis has had as a player who was once thought to be a few years away, and is now “that guy” alongside the other two “those guys”, even though his game might not be “there” alongside them exactly this second. Maybe next second, though, but not this one. That’s how close he is.

In my mind, and I can’t state enough how thinly this hair splitting is, the NBA is still LeBron’s league, with a (if healthy) Durant coming in behind him, followed by Davis and the wizard that’s Steph Curry hurrying to steal the King’s crown after. Obviously, honestly, these are only opinions anyway and in no way alter any of these players’ or their teams’ possible success. So, chill, friends.

Anthony Davis is there. Right there. So, so close. Except he isn’t as close to being there as some have stated, as the popular opinion is that he already is at that point in time where he’s an equal to the top two players in the league. Naturally, this isn’t a big deal, but if folks are going to continue to treat Davis as if he were some immortal demi-god, without realizing he’s still got a little way to go, leave it to jerks like me to try to bring everyone slightly (ever so slightly, my god don’t kill me) back to Earth.

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