Anthony Davis is one of the NBA’s best big men, but for most of his high school career, he wasn’t known for his size. At a respectable 6-foot-2 as a sophomore, Davis grew eight inches by the time he was a senior — and his game improved because of it. This definitely helped Davis become the player he is today.
Anthony Davis’ growth spurt
At his sophomore height, Davis could get around the court with speedy players, relying on his skills and 6-foot-2 frame. When he started growing, however, Davis and his parents were confused. His mother even took him to a doctor. She spoke to the Courier-Journal about his jarring growth spurt.
“His feet were dangling off the bed,” she said. “That really made it noticeable. His sleeves on his shirts began to be short, and the pants legs. He was like, ‘Mom, I need new school pants.’ I’m like, ‘Well, I just bought those?'”
This could make for some teenage awkwardness, but it also helped Davis craft his game after one of his favorite NBA players, Kevin Garnett. Davis went from a guard to a power forward in a little over a year. He wasn’t going to be a Shaquille O’Neal type of big man.
Davis the unicorn
Davis was entering a league where big men were required to have more skills. In this way, it was the perfect era for Davis to practice dominance. Garnett was the last center to have these skills when Davis joined the NBA, but more have shown an ability to have guard-like skills in recent years.
Many big men grew into the role. Although not as dynamic, Davis’s two-time teammate DeMarcus Cousins went from a traditional big man to an outside threat as the NBA adjusted around him.
Karl-Anthony Towns also plays with a skillset previously uncommon to big men. Giannis Antetokounmpo has spent time at point guard and continues playing unlike anyone his size.
No player can play the way Davis does at his size, however. He can dribble it down low or shoot it from outside, defend the paint on play then defend the perimeter on the next. When healthy, Davis is the best big man in the NBA. This first season with the Lakers is proving this again.
The 2019-20 NBA season
Davis may have had better seasons on the stat sheet than he is now. But this is the first time he might not even be the best player on his team. With LeBron James sharing some of the scoring and rebounding, Davis is still putting up 27 points per game, nine rebounds, and three assists.
What sets Davis apart from several other skilled big men is his defense. He’s kept this up during his eighth NBA season. He is blocking 2.6 shots per game and stealing the ball 1.5 times. He can guard the other team’s big men then punish them on offense. This is what makes him dangerous.
Davis has always resisted playing center, opting to play power forward throughout his career. Some wonder why he does this, but it makes sense for a player who has skills beyond the post to play where he can spread his wings. The scariest part, however, is that we may not have seen Davis’s best basketball yet.