Is Anthony Davis going to break out for USA Basketball?

Published: August 7, 2014

I’m not sure how many people plan on watching Team USA play in the World Cup of Basketball this off-season.  I intend to watch most of it since Anthony Davis is going to be there, and I’ll take any excuse I can to see him play basketball.  Other than that horrific Paul George injury, which I will NOT link to, I’ve enjoyed the run up to the event so far.  Being a bit starved for basketball, it’s been fun to read various accounts about the team last week in their training camp.  It’s been made even more fun to read in article after article that Anthony Davis is a lock to start for a team that has access to roughly 85% of the best young talent this country can offer.

Now, we’ve all watched him for two seasons, so none of us are surprised by that, and the accolades are well deserved, but there is one part of the coverage that bothers me.  There are some people predicting that Anthony Davis is a candidate to break out and make his name in this tournament.

Whoa.  Slow your roll.

This is FIBA basketball.  FIBA big men do not score in bunches.  They do not rebound in bunches.  They do not dominate games.  I love Davis, but I just can’t see that happening at all.

Quick question:  How many Team USA big men have averaged a 14 and 8 in the Olympics?  Answer:  None.

In fact, how many Team USA big men were their team’s leading scorer?  Answer:  One.  Charles Barkley – who was operating as a small forward next to Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Larry Bird, and Karl Malone on the original Dream Team.

This is FIBA basketball folks, which in a lot of ways inspired today’s NBA.  FIBA encourages perimeter play, screens on the edges, and lots of drive-and-kick threes.  Big men who operate in the paint? No thanks.   The lane is wider, they must start further out, and really their job is to rebound and finish pick and rolls.  Dwight Howard was good for 11 and 6 in 2008 at the peak of his abilities.  Bosh went for 9 and 6.  In 2004, Tim Duncan posted perhaps the best big man statline ever for the US, posting 12.9 points and 9.1 rebounds in a losing effort.  Kevin Love managed a pretty impressive 11.6 and 7.6 in 2012, which is why everyone involved with USA Basketball were very, very sad when he took himself off the team.

It’s the guys with the ball in their hands that score for Team USA.  Carmelo went for 16 a game last time out.  Durant let fly for 19.  LeBron and Kobe each came close to 16 a game – and Vince Carter almost scored 15 a game while jumping over Frederic Weis in 2000.  MJ scored 17 a game back in college – and 14 when he was playing for the Dream Team.  Those guys do the scoring.  Not the big guys.

So, yes, Davis will be vital to this team.  With Love busy being traded, Aldridge busy being courted for an extension, Blake Griffin busy having a back injury and then not having a back injury, Andre Drummond not being able to make a free throw, and DeMarcus Cousins being DeMarcus Cousins, Davis is absolutely vital to a team needing size.

He will make a huge difference, and will be amazing to watch playing off of Durant, Harden, Curry, Rose, Kyrie Irving, and the other horde of perimeter stars this team will carry with them to Spain.

Just don’t expect a breakout.

(Seriously.  Look at those guys listed above.  You think Davis is getting the ball outside of a few pick and rolls and dump-off plays?  Not a chance.)


  1. Michael McNamara

    August 7, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    He will be outstanding, but he won’t score a bunch. Can still ‘break out’ without scoring. Maybe casual fans won’t understand that he is the best player on the court on a given night, but readers of this blog are smarter than that. AD took the 5th most shots at UK and was the best player in the country. Same thing can happen here. But people have to watch the game, not just the box score.

  2. mojart

    August 7, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    with KD withdrawing from team USA…i expect a breakout from AD…the beast will be unleashed…

  3. Houpgarou

    August 8, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Whatever happens, it’s great practice at defending a style of offense a lot of nba teams are moving towards, even if he’s practicing the asik role instead of the ad role..?!?

  4. ryanschwan

    August 8, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Houpgarou Agreed.  Just being able to play with high-level stars can really help a guys game.

  5. ryanschwan

    August 8, 2014 at 8:52 am

    Michael McNamara Bah.  When people talk about players breaking out – they mean they will be the guy with the ball in their hands when the game matters, making all the big plays and controlling the flow of the game.  He will have a huge impact, but I just don’t see him being the dude running the offense with this crew of players.  With Durant out now, my money is on Curry to be an offensive focal point, with Harden a close second.

  6. Michael McNamara

    August 8, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    ryanschwan Michael McNamara Who cares about THEM? I understand novices are all about scoring. I am saying that people who really understand basketball will see that AD is clearly the best player on the court because of all the things he does. He was not the focal point at UK, but I would say he broke out that freshman year and people who understood that the game is about more than points took notice

  7. CoReMeGa

    August 8, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    YES… Was going to be my answer to your headline question.. But great points about the great bigs of yesterday not really having eye popping stats. I still think he will stand out as one of the best players on the team though.
    Wouldn’t be surprised to see some crazy stat lines from him.. I’m calling a 5×5 game from him!

  8. RafaBrazil

    August 8, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    The biggest takeaway for Davis will be improving his defense. This team has scorers, but he will be vital for the defense, plus, he will face different players and different styles of game. I’m sure he will grow a lot on that side of the ball, and the Pelicans thank USA NT for the elite training camp they are providing us and him!

  9. shaequankr

    August 12, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I guess Shaq in 94 doesn’t count……

  10. WorldOrder504

    August 17, 2014 at 3:06 am

    AD just proved this whole article is rubbish

  11. NOLA_P

    August 19, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I don’t know about all that! This kid is the best player on the court right now! I think the World will know his name after this tourney!! He looked great in both games!! BEAST!!

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