You should fear “The Unibrow”
In case you have not learned by now from my Syracuse comparison last week, I am starting to acquire my inevitable March fever. Right now, it’s probably just a slight temp. I’m going 99.4, but after this comparison, I may need to ingest a bottle of Tylenol.
From this point on, I would just like to refer to Anthony Davis as simply “The Unibrow.” TU has been the catalyst for the Kentucky Wildcats this season, and is primarily responsible for their 26-1 record and #1 ranking in the country. His uncanny ability to dominate the paint with his lanky figure reminded me of another freshman phenomenon from a couple of years back, Greg Oden.
This comparison is strictly their individual college seasons (for TU, obviously it’s going to be season to date) and does not factor into what has happened to Oden since, and that the Oden over Durant selection is starting to look like our generations Bowie over Jordan. Remember, Oden was seen as the best pure big man since David Robinson, and many people predicted he would be one of the greatest Centers of all-time. What has happened since…Let me put it this way, yesterday I had a knee ache, and I referred to it as a “Greg Oden.” It’s actually pretty tough to witness, but that is irrelevant to this piece.
Let’s merely look at how Davis’ dominant season compares to Oden’s freshman campaign for THE Ohio State University. (I added THE to get on my soap box for a moment, can everyone stop adding THE to their Alma mater’s name? It’s incredibly annoying and beaten to the ground at this point. At least just come up with something creative, like Terrell Suggs’ Ball-So-Hard University line. Thanks guys, I appreciate it. *jumps off soap box*)
Greg Oden: 15.7PPG, 9.6 RPG, 3.3BPG
Anthony Davis: 13.9PPG, 9.7RPG, 4.9BPG
This is a very difficult comparison as far as these two players from an offensive standpoint because despite their similarities statistically, they acquire their numbers in a completely different way.
Oden had a solid post-game that developed throughout his freshman year, which was part of his allure as the aforementioned greatest big man since David Robinson. A legitimate 7-footer who got his points in the post is a long-lost memory in today’s version of basketball, both college and the pros. Most big men these days have mastered the mid-range jumper (though most of them barely jump for their “jumper”, minor detail.)
However, that’s not how Davis gets his points either. Honestly, he mostly benefits from his teammates, his hustle, and his knack for the ball. Most of Davis’ points come from teammates penetrating the paint and lobbing it up to him for alley-oops, beating his opponents down the floor on the break, and offensive rebound put-backs. That is not a knock on TU because the put-backs and hustle is just another example of his exceptional motor, but as far as polished offensive skills, he’s not quite there yet. And I emphasize yet.
Greg Oden was the greatest college basketball defensive player that I have seen play in my lifetime, and then I saw Anthony Davis. Now I don’t know what to think. I don’t want to be a prisoner of the moment here because Davis is fresher in my mind, but I also don’t want to be a prisoner of my prior beliefs because when watching Oden play I thought “I’m never going to see someone better defensively.” Now that I may have, it’s like I don’t want to believe it because I didn’t think it was possible. The more I think about it, it’s possible, because it’s happened.
The determining factor for me was Davis’ help-defense, and his lateral quickness. To put it simply, Oden was sometimes not quick enough to get over to help out his teammates when they were beat off the dribble. It seems like every time a teammate *cough Terrence Jones cough* gets beat off the dribble, Davis is there to save the day. The Unibrow, like Oden, makes more of a difference than just Blocks per Game; guys are scored to come in the paint, and he affects shots he has no chance getting to because players are merely worried about getting the ball out of his range.
Advantage: The Unibrow
For the purposes of this debate, we are all tied up, so here are some quick-hitters I found between these two:
Durability: Again, this does not factor Oden’s post-college career. However, it does factor his actual college career, which should have been the first warning. Oden missed seven games in his only season with the Buckeyes, and struggled with injuries since the sixth-grade. Davis has played every game for the Wildcats, and big minutes, averaging 31 a game. Advantage: The Unibrow.
Team Around Them: This is where the comparison may be a little tough to handle. How do you quantify the fact that Kentucky has at least five 1st-rounders on their roster, and presumable three lottery picks (Davis, Jones, Kidd-Gilchrist)? It is undeniable that this Kentucky team is more talented, and just plain better than Oden’s Ohio State squad, which consisted of he and Conley, and a bunch of good glue guys. Naturally, Davis benefits from this immensely, as stated in his offensive statistics from earlier. However, his teammates undoubtedly benefit from him as well. Still, Advantage in terms of this comparison goes to Oden, who had way more of a burden on both ends of the floor than Davis.
Efficiency: Both guys are extremely efficient from the floor. Oden led the Big Ten in FG%, hitting 61.4% of his shots. Davis is currently 2nd in the nation in FG%, hitting 65.4% of his shots. Advantage: The Unibrow
This is really a tough call for me. In my mind it seems to work out that Oden is better than Davis offensively more than Davis is better than Oden defensively. That SHOULD point me in Oden’s favor, but unfortunately for Greg, even in this college debate, the durability is the difference. Even when thinking about his college career, the first thing I remember is his incredible defense, and the second thing I remember is his injuries. Again, I am talking prior to his NBA career; I remember his wrist injury, having to manage his minutes (which he helped with his knack for getting into foul trouble as well), and just the baggage that went along with having Greg Oden on your team (on the court baggage, I am not talking about his cell-phone problems, because remember, that was post-college.) The Unibrow seems like just another guy on the team, who also happens to block everything in a 60-foot radius. Plus, he interacts with his fans beautifully.
I am not sure I can quite articulate how painful this is for me to say because of how much I loved watching Oden play, but give me The Unibrow.