This is your No. 1 pick New Orleans. Your franchise savior.
Anthony Davis, last seen leading Kentucky to a national title, attended the NBA Draft Combine, although he didn’t work out for teams. He doesn’t have to. While he says in his last sentence that his selection isn’t set in stone, it is. He will be the first name called.
In part because he seems humble and a hard worker, which are things that can help separate the good from the great in the NBA. And Davis could be great.
Report: Anthony Davis, other Kentucky stars to declare for draft Tuesday
Not even the most die-hard Kentucky fan — say, Ashley Judd — really thought Anthony Davis or the rest of the top players on Kentucky were coming back for another year.
That will become reality Tuesday when Davis (the lock No. 1 overall pick and likely franchise player) as well as Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Doran Lamb and Marquis Teague of Kentucky all will hold a joint press conference, at which each and each one is expected to declare for the NBA draft, as reported on NBC’s CollegeBasketballTalk.
Yes, Kidd-Gilchrist has repeatedly denied he was turning pro, but it would be a shock if the lock top five pick did not jump into the draft.
There’s a reason that these guys are all turning pro (and a reason Kentucky won the national title). DraftExpress in their current mock draft has Davis going No. 1, Kidd-Gilchrist No. 3, Jones No. 11, Teague No. 18 and Lamb early in the second round.
None of this is a surprise, this is how the John Calipari system works (see John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and we could go on and on). But this group is fully committed if they declare — the new (and silly) NCAA rule says that the last day to withdraw your name from consideration for the draft was April 10. The NBA says players have to April 29 to declare, but now once you are in you are in, there is no time to “test the waters.” (How is this the NCAA is looking after the student athletes? Oh, we’ll save that rant for another day.)
For the past couple seasons, a guy named Antoine Walker was playing for the Idaho Stampede in the D-League who looked and sounded a lot like the former Celtic and three-time All-Star.
But if you watched him he was a shell of that former player (which is why he never got another shot in the NBA). He had become a player more known as a cautionary tale of losing money than the Chicago legend who went on to play for storied teams like Kentucky and the Celtics. A guy who picked up a ring in 2006 with the Heat.
He announced it quietly, in the Stampede locker room, the team announced, a stark contrast to the bombastic player who could score and shimmy with the best of them. He is walking away from the game after a dozen seasons in the NBA and two in the D-League. A formal announcement is expected soon
Rather thank talk about what happened off the court, I will choose to remember the guy who could make the best defenders in the game look helpless.
Report: Kentucky’s Kidd-Gilchrist will declare for NBA draft
Multiple sources close to Kidd-Gilchrist told ESPN.com on Thursday that Kidd-Gilchrist will enter the 2012 NBA Draft after Kentucky’s season ends.
I hear you now — Kidd-Gilchrist said earlier this month that he was going to stay at Kentucky next season. He said he would graduate from the school. I know that. We hear the same thing every year. Guys say that and may mean it at the time but change their minds. There are the exceptions — Jared Sullinger last year who did stay last year at Ohio State — but for the most part guys say they will stay because it’s what people want to hear. Who wants to walk around campus after saying they are gone? Who wants to deal with local media and passionate alumni asking you about it or trying to change your mind every day? Say you’ll stay, then when you find out your actual draft status — ideally not what friends and agents tell you but rather what the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee tells you — make a decision.
In the case of Kidd-Gilchrist, DraftExpress has him going No. 3. It’s easy to see why — not only does he have skills but he has an incredible motor. This guy busts it for everything and can defend on the perimeter at an NBA level. He’ll not only help you in games, he’ll help you in practices because he will push everyone.
I think college players should be careful about declaring for the draft, but if you are a lock lottery pick like Kidd-Gilchrist there are financial risks to not coming out. And those are the kind of things that might change anyone’s mind.
NBA fans — and to some degree NBA GMs — do a lot of scouting during conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament. They like seeing players they may draft respond to pressure situations against good competition.
But for scouts, it rarely changes what they have thought about a player they have watched for a couple seasons now. Opinions are formed.
Thursday that is a battle of slightly undersized bigs — Florida’s Patric Young vs. Marquette’s Jae Crowder. Young says he is staying in school another year but he is the better prospect who at 6’9” can defend and rebound at an NBA level. He’s strong, a good shot blocker and while he has been up and down he works hard. Which will make things challenging for Crowder, who is all about outworking you. Crowder — projected as a second round pick by DraftExpress — is also strong and a guy who works hard off the ball and defends like a beast. His challenge is he plays the four in college but is really the size of an NBA three and some scouts wonder if he is athletic enough to play on the wing. What I have seen (limited though it is) he looks to me like he can defend on the wing at an NBA level, and if he can do that he has real value.
The better matchup may be Friday — Kentucky’s Anthony Davis against Indiana’s Cody Zeller. They went head-to-head earlier in the year but Ford says neither impressed, here is a chance to do so. Not that anything that happens will change the fact Davis is going to be the first overall pick — he is very long, defends well, is athletic and has very good handles for a big. I generally hate comparing guys to current NBA players, but watch him and he reminds me of a young Kevin Garnett. Zeller also is a very agile, athletic big who would be a lottery pick if he came out this year. He’s another big who can step out and beat you on the perimeter or running the break. Zeller may stay in school another year (if so he may go top 5 next year) but this is a good matchup test for both men. (Kentucky just has a lot more talent around Davis than Indiana does.)