Dressed in a dapper gray suit, Anthony Davis, his unibrow well-groomed, strode across the stage at the Prudential Center in Newark. He greeted Commissioner David Stern with a firm handshake, donned a New Orleans Hornets baseball cap and posed for a photo. That small ceremony was just a precursor to the official start of the Anthony Davis era this upcoming fall.
But those anxious to see what Davis can do against top competition may not have wait until this fall. The men’s senior national team is seeing its members drop like flies thanks to injuries sustained during a grueling NBA season. The latest casualties, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, might have USA basketball executives slightly concerned about how their roster for London is shaping up.
Wade’s loss can be easily overcome thanks to the glut of talented guards in camp, but Bosh’s absence could prove much more costly. With the Heat forward now out of the mix, the US is left with only two players (Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love) capable of effectively manning the center position. Lamar Odom did spend time there as part of the 2010 World Championship squad, but his precarious mental state makes him far from a safe bet to make the team.
That presents the question, “Is it time for the US to seriously consider Davis?”
It has been thought that Davis’ inclusion in the 2012 Olympic pool was mainly to allow him to get his feet wet in the program. After all, between Bosh, Chandler, Love, Dwight Howard and the host of players the US planned on using as small-ball fours, big man depth was never considered to be an issue. Now that the circumstances have changed, has the opinion around Davis’ involvement changed with them?
Asking head coach Mike Krzyzewski, or his staff, will likely only produce stock answers. Fans are just left to speculate what Davis can bring to the team if included. He has the length and shot blocking only Chandler can reliably match, but his offensive game remains a major work in progress. Perhaps the biggest obstacle blocking serious consideration is Davis' strength, or perhaps more aptly put, his lack of it.
The international game in particular is far more rugged than the NBA. In most high level European leagues, much more physical play can often go unimpeded by a whistle. With that being the case, would any US coach or fan really want to see the sinewy Davis battling the Gasol brothers in the low post during a game in the medal round? Despite what they lack in length, LeBron James or Blake Griffin might be better bets to use at the pivot should fouls or more injuries limit Chandler and Love.
Despite all that, it still is an interesting query, especially when considering what Davis’ inclusion might do for his and the NBA’s brand. Sadly, this won’t be settled until camp breaks and the team makes the trek across the Atlantic. Until then, don’t resign your fate to waiting until October to watch Davis battle the best. There’s a chance you might witness it sooner than expected.