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.)


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