There’s little debate that the men’s college basketball Player of the Year race has been narrowed down to Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Kansas’ Thomas Robinson. Each player is a part of a top five team, each player is sporting huge numbers, and most importantly each player is leading their team to wins. A lot of Kentucky fans assumed Anthony Davis finally took the lead in the Player of the year race after his outstanding 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 blocks against Vanderbilt on Saturday. But did he really separate himself from Robinson?
The numbers suggest he didn’t gain much on the Jayhawk. Robinson must have heard Anthony Davis’ numbers before stepping onto the court Saturday afternoon, because he put up 28 points and 12 rebounds to match, all while leading his team to victory. To the casual observer, it looked like Robinson evened the score and maintained whatever slim lead he might have in the Player of the Year race. After all, looking at Robinson’s 17.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, it’s hard to argue against him.
That is, until you look a little deeper. Saturday’s games were much more telling than a quick glance might indicate. Both players scored 28 points, so you have to call that one a draw, right? Not exactly. Robinson’s 28 came on 10-21 shooting, about 48%. Davis’ 28 points, on the other hand, were from 10-11 shooting, about 91%. They made the same number of field goals, but Davis did his in 10 less attempts. The Kentucky star scored incredibly more efficiently, saving his team possessions and posing a greater threat to the defense. That efficiency creates shots and holes that benefit his teammates as well.
Another interesting comparison between these two in Saturday’s games was revealed in the offensive rebound numbers. Davis managed to bring in four offensive boards, while Robinson only grabbed two. Once again Davis is creating more offensive opportunities, not wasting them. Robinson may have numbers that are equal and even superior to Davis, but Davis’ numbers are so much more influential and beneficial to his team.
Of course the biggest difference between these two young men, and the single greatest reason Davis deserves a unanimous vote as Player of the Year, is his absurd ability to block shots. Robinson only blocked one shot against Missouri, despite them taking 65 shots. Davis managed to reject six shots of Vanderbilt’s 64, nearly 10% of their total. And statistics just can’t capture the number of shots Davis is adversely affecting, elevating his defensive influence even further. There isn’t a player in college basketball that has the impact and authority over a game that Anthony Davis does. That was never displayed better than against Vandy on Saturday, and anyone who thinks Thomas Robinson had as superb a game is suffering from a mental block of their own.
Filed Under: Basketball
About the Author: Corey Tincher is a lifelong Kentucky fan and professional writer who couldn't keep the two worlds apart. He is the lead contributor for StraitCats.com and literally wrote the book on the 2012 NCAA Tournament Championship run, Big Blue Articles: Kentucky Basketball in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Follow @Corey_Tincher on Twitter for more Kentucky news and discussion.