After the departures of Kevin Durant and Paul George from Team USA for this summer’s set of international friendlies and the FIBA World Cup many people expected Anthony Davis to step into a leadership role both on and off the court. Davis, one of only two players on the roster returning from the 2012 USA Olympic squad, wasn’t ever expected to do much scoring but was looked at as a player whose defensive and rebounding impact would be the key to keeping the Americans ahead of the rest of the world in basketball.
As it turns out Davis was more than ready for the task, as he has been the dominant defensive force that everyone expected through the team’s four game warm-up tour and somehow even better in the team’s two games in Spain at the World Cup, posting numbers that seem unreal.
In the four exhibition games the team played getting ready for their run in Spain, Davis dominated to the tune of a team leading 13.8 points per game on 57 percent shooting from the field and 71 percent shooting from the free-throw line. To go along with his scoring, Davis added 6.5 rebounds per game (second on the team by just 0.3 rebounds), a team high 15 blocks (11 more than any other player on the roster), six steals (good for third on the team) and just two turnovers in a team high 82 minutes.
As it turns out that set of warm-up games would just be a glimpse of the devastation that Davis would bring in the World Cup. In Team USA’s first two games Davis has dominated and started the runs for the Americans that would put the game out of reach both times.
Against Finland in the American’s opener Davis scored 17 points including seven points in 56 seconds and made the Finnish players tremble anytime they stepped into the paint with Davis around as Team USA won 114-55. Then came Sunday’s tough game against Turkey where Davis finished the first half with zero points and one rebound and Team USA trailed by five. As it turned out though, Davis was just giving a team false hope as he finished with 19 points and the Americans finished with a 98-77 victory that was much harder than the score showed.
While each individual game looks nice on its own Davis’s numbers so far this summer are even more ridiculous when looked at closer. Through the two games in Group C play in Spain Davis is averaging an impossible 0.9 points per minute while shooting 73 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free throw line in 40 total minutes. For the entire six game stretch this summer Davis is now up to 0.75 points per minute on 63 percent shooting from the field and 71 percent shooting from the free throw line, numbers that seem more like a guard than a 6 foot 11 inch big man.
The scariest part of all though is that it seems probable that Davis will keep this up in the coming games. Davis has started to (almost clearly) become the best player on the roster over the last few games and he always seems to be the guy the ball finds when Team USA needs something good to happen. With New Zealand, Ukraine and the Dominican Republic still left in group play and all of the teams lacking talented big men expect to see more Davis highlights in the coming days.