Beyond the Lottery: Anthony Davis

When 19-year-old Anthony Davis is called to the stage by David Stern tonight as the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the combined expectations of a team, a league and the global hoops universe will suddenly be heaped upon him. You’d have to go back to the top selection of LeBron James in 2003 to find as much excitement and hype surrounding the #1 pick.

No one doubts that Davis’ upside is unlimited, that he is the type of player a franchise can build around or that his skill set and total package are so rare as to be seen once a decade. After all, this one-year Wildcat won National Player of The Year, Defensive Player of The Year and Freshman of The Year – a trifecta never before achieved. Davis, who led Kentucky to the 2012 National Championship, has no peers in this year’s draft.

The first overall selection in the draft is always remembered, whether as a Hall of Famer, NBA Champion, trivia answer, icon or bust. To be chosen #1 means that you are expected at a minimum to be a multi-year All-Star and to contribute right away to the down-on-its-luck team that was fortunate enough to win the draft lottery.

Some #1 picks did just that: Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, LeBron and Blake Griffin. Other #1 picks had the misfortune of A) being widely overrated by professional GM’s or B) being the best amateur player in a horrible top-to-bottom draft class or C) suffering early career-changing injuries as did Pervis Ellison, Joe Smith, Michael Olowokandi, Kwame Brown and Greg Oden.

Tonight’s draft has been described as average to slightly above-average by experts and executives. Davis is considered the only sure thing in this class. He has been compared to Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and a longer, more polished Scottie Pippen. Davis’ wicked defense is already an A+. His size and athleticism will allow him to play virtually anywhere on the court. Davis has great hands, instincts and a 7’5” wingspan. He gobbles up boards. He possesses a relentless motor matched with a genius basketball IQ. And Davis is a proven winner with an unselfish, team-oriented outlook.

Will the pride of the South Side of Chicago average 20 and 10 with 3+ blocks next season for the New Orleans Hornets and get them back into the playoffs? The folks down in the battered Big Easy hope so. Nothing is certain in sports and in one minute everyone’s darling can turn into the prognosticators’ verbal punching bag. That’s what makes the analysis on draft night so varied and exciting. I expect Anthony Davis to be a top-10 NBA talent for years to come.

Beyond the Lottery: Terrence Jones

University of Kentucky sophomore Terrence Jones started 34 of 38 games this past season for the supremely talented 2012 NCAA Champion Wildcats. Jones averaged 12.3 ppg. 7.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg and 1.3 spg in 30 minutes of court time for coach John Calipari. At 6’9” and 252 pounds, the 20-year-old Jones can play either forward position, and he possesses above average athleticism, especially for a player his size.

This lefty moves fluidly around the court and is a great finisher at the rim with his 7’2” wingspan. He runs the floor hard in the proper lanes and can handle the rock on the break and in transition. The pride of Portland, Oregon posted season-highs of 27 points, 11 boards (5X), 5 blocks and 4 steals.

Jones can hit the 20+ foot jumper and has demonstrated marked improvement in his outside ‘J’ since coming out of Jefferson High School, where he led his squad to an unprecedented three straight state championships. With his developing physique and strength, bolstered by countless hours in the weight room, Jones can battle for rebounds and has active feet and positioning on the offensive glass.

On the defensive end, Jones’ combination of hops, length and lateral quickness gives him the ability to guard the post and the wing spots. He blocks shots, shuts off passing lanes and can deny dribble penetration. Jones isn’t afraid of battling bigger players in the paint, which should serve him well in the current NBA which is loaded with top-flight PF’s.

Jones is projected to go between 16-21 in Round 1 of the 2012 NBA Draft. The main knock on Jones is that he is a tweener, not a true 3 or a true 4. A secondary criticism is that no one facet of his overall game can be described as truly exceptional yet.

However, Jones displayed maturity and leadership on a freshman-dominated team. He was moved from the SF to the PF in his second season by coach Cal and accepted his new role for the sake of his team’s success. By virtue of choosing the UK program, Jones participated in numerous important games and learned to play in unison with at least seven current or future NBA players. Look for Jones to keep improving and to begin his pro career as a do-most-everything, energy-boosting bench contributor.

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Joined The Steve Czaban Show to talk NBA & NCAA hoops. CLICK HERE to listen on Yahoo Sports Radio.