Go ahead and watch that clip again, because it’s a historic moment that should be remembered for all time. That’s Dirk Nowtizki’s patented one-legged fadeaway jumper being blocked by Anthony Davis. And in terms of shot blocks, it’s like catching a glimpse of Bigfoot.
No one blocks that shot. That’s the “Dirk,” the un-blockable move he’s crafted and curated for years, allowing him to always get a shot off even if a defender is right in his face. Sure, some help defender has probably snuck up from behind him and got a piece of it before, but this wasn’t a ninja-like sneak attack. This was Davis, guarding Dirk one-on-one, simply being too long and athletic for Dirk to get the shot away. And that’s not supposed to happen.
It’s fitting, because Anthony Davis – as we know him today – wasn’t supposed to happen either. Back in high school in Chicago, Davis was a 6-3 point guard who looked destined to make his way to Cleveland State until a huge growth spurt saw him rise to 6-10. From there, we know the story. He went instead to the University of Kentucky, dominated in his freshman season, won a national championship, made scouts drool with his vast array of skills, and eventually became the number one overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Anthony Davis had it all. Just read what Draft Express had to say.
“Standing 6-10 in shoes, with a 7-4 wingspan, and arguably the most impressive blend of athletic tools we’ve seen in a big man prospect in our nine years evaluating the NBA draft, Davis is one of the most physically gifted players on this planet at the moment. He runs the floor incredibly well, is outrageously quick and explosive off his feet, moves extremely smooth and fluidly, and perhaps best of all, is more than willing to use his gifts to his advantage on seemingly every possession.”
We hear nearly every summer about how “Player X” or “Player Y” is the best thing scouts have seen in years and has the ability to be a great player in the league. It’s a tale repeated over and over every time there’s a top prospect. But – and of course it’s easy to say now – there was something different about Davis. Just watching him at Kentucky, you sensed you were seeing something special. The best players – the LeBron’s and Durant’s – have an aura about them that lets you know, almost subconsciously, that they’re the best. Davis – again, easy to say now, I know – had that at Kentucky, and he has that with the Pelicans.
Go ahead and watch that clip again, because it’s a historic moment that should be remembered for all time, but also because that one play defines that “something special,” that cliché “it” factor that’s so hard to put into words. Everything is right there in that ten second clip. The length and athleticism, the understanding of his opponent and the situation, the patience to stay down on the initial shot fake; it’s perfect.
And while that play is incredible, and to me is the defining moment of Davis’ young career, it of course isn’t the only impressive highlight he’s given us. He’s also done this. And this. And this. Oh, and also this. Plus he’s one of only four players in the league averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds a night (the others being Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMarcus Cousins) and leads the league in blocks per game by a healthy margin at 3.3 a night (Roy Hibbert is second with 2.5) at just 20 years old. He’s not even through his second full season in the league and has been more than willing to show he’s capable of dominating. In back to back games last week, he finished with 22 points, 19 rebounds and 7 blocks and followed it up with 30 points, 7 rebounds and 8 blocks. And while PER (John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating) certainly isn’t the be-all-end-all, Davis is fifth in the league in that at 27.12.
It’s clear on the court and on paper that Davis isn’t just one of the best young players in the game, he’s one of the best players period. This is still LeBron and Durant’s league, but the time will come – and probably sooner than you think – when Davis ascends to their level. And with his size, skill and that damn bird Pierre on his side, no one’s stopping him.
So go ahead and watch that clip again, because it’s a historic moment that should be remembered for all time, but also because that one play defines that “something special,” that cliché “it” factor that’s so hard to put into words, and that is why we watch.