When the names Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond and DeMarcus Cousins come up in conversation, certain things are commonly heard. With Davis, it all seems to be about his defense and extra patch of hair between the eyes that make him look less basketball player and more pubescent spelling bee contestant. With Drummond, it’s the 37-percent free-throw percentage, making him about as good at hitting an uncontested shot as a baseball player is at getting a hit off a ball moving at German autobahn speeds. Finally, Cousins reminds us of that immaturity, quick-tempered friend we all have or use to. You can shoot the breeze for hours with them but if we’re talking about Monopoly, you better prepare yourself for the inevitable upending of the board. With that aside, they each share something in common. With the inevitable exit of Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, the great post players of our time, the burden to carry on the legacy of elite-level talent at those positions falls on the trio in question.
With Davis, we’re on the cusp of a season that will likely be the proverbial breakout for the second-year former Kentucky Wildcat. The sheer perimeter skill retained from his high school days are what set him apart, much like Kevin Garnett. In his prime, we remember the threat that Garnett presented on the floor: the three-point range, deadly mid-range game, quickness to get to the basket and that automatic turnaround short jumper. Even writing this now, I’m finally realizing how far away we are now from the Garnett we use to see at that point of his career. With Davis, a similar package presents itself but with defense that is far ahead of Garnett’s at the same age. There are only a few true superstars in the NBA, players that put you in the title conversation simply by being on your roster. In my eyes, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, LeBron James and Chris Paul are the only players that fit that description. With Davis the closest I’ve seen in a long time to Duncan and Garnett, I believe we’re about to see one of the top-five players in the league emerge this season.
If the development continues, Drummond will make sure the 2012 NBA draft will be among the most requested for redo among fan bases in Toronto, Charlotte and the rest of the clueless octuplets that make up the early lottery. Entering the first season at Connecticut, Drummond was the unanimous No. 1 prospect in the country, combining speed and athleticism unheard of at 6-foot-11, 280-pounds with the defensive instincts that projected him as a great rim protector at the next level. In a nutshell, you had another Dwight Howard but one who showed promise with a nice albeit inconsistent short jumper. Last season in Detroit, although brought along slowly, he gave the NBA a taste of the impact he’s destined to make on the court. Entering this year, a place in the starting lineup will make sure he gives the league more than a simple taste test and rises alongside Davis into superstardom.
With Cousins, the skill has always been there but the mental side of things hasn’t thus far in Sacramento. As a talent, we’re talking about one of the strongest players in the NBA, one with a mean streak and a toughness we just don’t see anymore. The issue at hand with Cousins is that without proper molding, those never become as useful as they can be if refined and controlled. You can be an intense competitor but if you don’t learn to channel that emotion and create a steady streaming flow instead of a tsunami out of it, you’re going get yourself in a lot of jeopardizing situations. That said, the impact to the rest of the association if Cousins ever gets his head screwed on straight is significant as all the tools of a top-10 NBA talent are there.
The upcoming NBA season promises to entertain with new contenders and more guaranteed minutes to pad Javale McGee‘s Shaqtin’ a Fool resume. Among the excitement, a trio of young towers will rise in the NBA to take the torch from their aging predecessors, embarking on the mission to rekindle the belief that championships are not built from the perimeter but instead down in the post.