March 03, 2012; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward Thomas Robinson (0) shoots a free throw in the first half of the game against the Texas Longhorns at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won the game 73-63. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE
With the season coming to a close talk has naturally shifted to player of the year talk. Thomas Robinson has built a nearly airtight case (although Draymond Green has been fantastic) until recent weeks when Anthony Davis gained a lot of momentum due to Kentucky being the best team in the country, ESPN needing something to talk about, and Davis having the sixth highest usage rate on his own team.
Personally I think Robinson should be the player of the year, though I agree that Green has a pretty good case as well, but I could be accused of bias for that stance, so let's compare him to Davis and you'll see they're rather similar.....wait, it's Jeff Withey who is similar to Davis? Fair enough.
(thanks to commenter KU Chief aka @rockchalkchief for sending me the bulk of the chart)
As I mentioned, Davis has the 6th highest usage rate on his own team, while Withey has the third highest on Kansas. That obviously drags down his shooting percentage a bit, as does the fact that Davis got a lot of his points via wide open dunks early in the year. I certainly will give him credit for expanding his offensive game later in the year however.
Davis plays a lot more than Withey, gets to take easier shots than Withey, plays on a more talented offensive team than Withey, and plays against easier competition than Withey. Despite this, their points per 40 minutes are quite similar, as are their offensive rebounding rates. Davis is the better offensive player, but it's not a runaway. (by the way Withey has a much higher FT rate, 71.6 to 55.4, and shoots 10% higher from the line, 81% to 71%).
Finally, the main reason Davis has been lauded all year is his shot blocking. His block percentage is extremely good at 14.73%. It is so good that it is 3rd best in the country, almost as good as Jeff Withey's, who is second at 14.78%.
This post certainly isn't to suggest Jeff WIthey is a better player than Anthony Davis. Davis is a tremendous talent who will rightfully go #1 overall in the NBA Draft next June. It is to suggest however that NBA potential and current college production aren't the same thing, and for the best at the latter there really is only one choice.