Pelicans 92, Wolves 84: A fun future

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Tonight’s 92-84 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans left me in awe of the other team more than usual. More specifically, of one particular player. Early in the game, Anthony Davis used his comically long arms to get an easy look over the much shorter Thaddeus Young.

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That got myself, Britt Robson, and Steve McPherson talking about how freakishly similar Davis’ arsenal of moves and motions stacks up to a guy who made his name in the Target Center.

When you watch Anthony Davis play basketball in the Target Center, it’s almost like we’re back in 1998, watching a young Kevin Garnett reclaim his territory in downtown Minneapolis. You could expect 20 points, 12 rebounds and tremendous defense from KG on a nightly basis.

Tonight, Davis had 21 points, 12 rebounds, and was everywhere in the paint. He only had one block on the night, but there was more than one instance where his length made it impossible for the shot taker to get a clean look at the rim.

On offense, the similarities continue. He has a smooth shooting stroke and can hit from 20 feet out (he likes the top of the key, also similar to KG).  His athleticism and activity on offense gives him endless chances to score, and his long arms allow him to put up easy buckets inside (shown above).

I’ve been going to TImberwolves games since Garnett’s early years, and generally hate making player comparisons, especially when it comes to my favorite all-time player. In this case, I can’t help it. Davis is the only guy I’ve ever seen that reminds me of him on both ends.The best part? He’s only 21 years old.

Andrew Wiggins, 19, is not to the point where he can impact a game the way Anthony Davis currently can. Rookies rarely, if ever, do. He shows shades of comparisons, but not of one guy in the way Davis does. Wiggins doesn’t compare to just one guy, he compares to many.

Tonight, he struggled to tap into those comparisons. Wiggins, like many before him, had issues finding ways to score inside on Davis and Omer Asik, finishing just 6/16 from the field for 13 points. He wasn’t alone, either. Mo Williams rarely took the ball into the paint, and instead would kick it out at the elbow or settle for long two-pointers for much of the game. Zach LaVine often did the same thing.

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As for Wiggins, Flip Saunders said after the game that he’s very likely tired, and may have hit the dreaded “rookie wall”, but expects him to bounce back once they “find the soft spot in the wall”.

Only Minnesota’s bigs (Nikola Pekovic, Thad Young, Gorgui Dieng) were able to fight through New Orleans’ long frontcourt to generate points. Taking that into account, along with their 2/9 performance from deep, a win was going to be tough to obtain.

Still, the game was fun to see in-person, if nothing else, so I could sit and daydream about the future of the NBA, and the roles Anthony Davis and Andrew Wiggins had as part of that future.

At this point, Davis is beyond a sure thing. He’s already the best all-around power forward in the NBA at 21 years old, and will probably learn to become a better scorer as he continues to get stronger and savvier with the basketball. Wiggins is way ahead of the curve for a 19 year old, and clearly has All Star, even franchise player potential. But the word “potential” will remain until he starts putting up production to the way Davis has learned to do.

This isn’t an effort to pressure Wiggins into producing more sooner. Again, he’s already way ahead of where I, and most others, expected him to be at this point. This is simply a tip of the hat to Davis, who has made superstar development look easy. The outlook for both of these players is exciting and beyond promising.

They’re both going to be great, and it’s going to be fun. It is already.

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