Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
VIDEO: When will Anthony Davis go for 50-plus again?
> If you were building a team in today’s NBA and could choose one of these players as your cornerstone, who would it be: Damian Lillard or Anthony Davis?
David Aldridge, TNT analyst: Anthony Davis. No disrespect, Dame. But one of y’all is 6-foot-3, and the other is 6-foot0-10. I know today’s NBA game is all about small ball, and that Lillard’s lethality will be more valuable than ever in future seasons. I cannot, though, give up “The Brow” if I have a chance. He can score, as Sunday’s 59-point masterpiece against showed. Maybe Dame is a better game-in, game-out scorer. But Davis can control games with rebounding and defense as well. There’s simply more small guys who can play than big guys, so if you have the game’s best young big on your side, you have someone who cannot be easily replicated, or defended.
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Can we give the “little man” thing a rest, please? From the Golden State-inspired pendulum swing to the 3-ball to the “frontcourt” slur of All-Star balloting, traditional NBA big men are becoming an endangered species. But this one is a no-brainer. Give me a remarkably skilled 6-foot-10 player (Davis) over a remarkably skilled 6-foot-3 guy (Lillard) every day and twice for proverbial Sunday matinees. You’ve got a lot better chance finding a point guard to complement Davis and defensively challenge Lillard than you do the other way around with some replacement big. Besides, Davis is three years younger and if I’m the GM, I want to hang onto my job those extra seasons.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: So here’s one more chip for Damian Lillard to carry around on his shoulder. But the decision here isn’t even close. You’ve got to take the still 22-year-old, 6-foot-10 forward with the skills to do just about anything on the floor offensively and also dominate a game just by playing defense. It’s Anthony Davis all the way and I’d be shocked if even one of the 30 NBA general managers — including his own — would choose different.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Anthony Davis. That’s no slight on Lillard, a star for many years to come and the driving force behind the Portland Trail Blazers emerging as one of the feel-good stories of the season. But Davis can be a bigger star on both sides of the ball. That ability to greatly impact on both sides of the ball gives him an edge. And while I’m not as much of a proponent of the old theory of leaning toward a big over a small, given the changing NBA, it doesn’t hurt when the big can play two positions.
Shaun Powell, NBA.com: Anthony Davis all day. And that’s no disrespect to Dame, who would’ve — should’ve — been on the West team in the All-Star Game if not for all the Kobe Bryant love. Davis is just 22 and hasn’t touched his prime yet and is big and can impact games on both ends. Come to think of it, is this a trick question?
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Damian Lillard is the closest thing to Stephen Curry. As a primary ball-handler who can pull-up, drive or pass on pick-and-rolls, he forces defenses to change up their coverages. But there’s still a big difference between Curry and Lillard in regard to what percentage of those pull-up shots go in the basket. Anthony Davis still has a step or two to take in his development on both offense and defense, but he has the tools to be the best two-way player in the game. That should be easier to build around, though the Pelicans obviously don’t have the right complementary pieces at this point and Terry Stotts has done a fantastic job in Portland to have the Blazers in playoff position.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: His age, skill-set, ceiling and transcendent talent make Anthony Davis the pick here. But I’ll give credit to Damian Lillard for being a franchise cornerstone you can build a potential playoff team around right now. That’s a role Davis played last year for the Pelicans, securing their trip to the playoffs with yeoman’s work in the regular season finale against the San Antonio Spurs. This is a great question, though, with both of these guys coming off of monster, 50-plus-point outings this past weekend. Lillard is one of nearly a dozen elite point guards in the NBA right now. But Davis is one of barely a handful of players his size or taller capable of playing the role of game changer on a nightly basis. His unique profile is simply too special to overlook in this instance.
Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: You couldn’t go wrong with either one. As much as Lillard’s maturity and leadership skills are to be respected in addition to his talent, you’d have to choose Davis because his blend of size, skills and perspective is almost impossible to find these days. Based on his age and upside, especially at the defensive end, it’s understandable why Davis is regarded by many GMs as the most valuable talent in the league.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: My answer may anger Damian Lillard and propel him to yet another level of greatness, but I’d go with Anthony Davis. Not only is Davis three years younger than Lillard, and a better defensive player, but the real reason I’d select AD is that finding a basketball player with AD’s combination of size and speed and skill and strength is almost a once-in-a-lifetime discovery. Not to say that finding another Lillard would be a simple task, but it’s easier to go out and get a competent point guard than it is a big man. Especially one like Davis.