A frustrating thing about relying on counting stats to assess a player’s value is that it’s impossible to count things that don’t happen. Yes, perhaps you can watch enough of a player to tell if he is good at not doing bad things, but realistically it is tough. How many people watch a player score a basket and say, “that was a really good job at not committing a turnover.” It doesn’t happen.

For this reason, John Wall was considered a viable player of the year candidate two years ago despite a prodigious turnover rate. Likewise, Kendall Marshall was anointed the best point guard in a America before the season despite a turnover problem. And of course both Wall and Marshall are great players, but it does seem like their tendency to commit turnovers went unnoticed.

In case you’ve been locked inside the Biodome lately, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis is very good at something – blocking shots. We all know this. What makes Davis truly unique is his ability to not do something – commit fouls. (BTW, Searching for Billy Edelin is already on the case.)

But Davis’s 2.6 fouls committed per 40 minutes played is just a number that by itself doesn’t mean much to me. It turns out that this number, when combined with his block rate, is rather spectacular. To give it some context, I went back at looked at past shot-blocking greats that went on to play in the NBA (or at least tried to) in order to see how Davis’s combination of block and foul rate stacks up.

                        Blk    PF    Min   PF/40  Blk/40  Blk/PF
Adonal Foyle - Jr.      180    60   1055    2.3    6.8     3.0
Anthony Davis - Fr.     120    50    772    2.6    6.2     2.4
Hasheem Thabeet - Jr.   152    90   1145    3.1    5.3     1.7
Jarvis Varnado - Sr.    170    88   1141    3.1    6.0     1.9
Dikembe Mutombo - Sr.   151    91   1090    3.3    5.5     1.7
Marcus Camby - Jr.      128    87   1011    3.4    5.1     1.5
David Robinson - Jr.    207   100   1187    3.4    7.0     2.1
Shaquille O'Neal - Jr.  157    86    959    3.6    6.5     1.8
Emeka Okafor - So.      155    98   1087    3.6    5.7     1.6
Hassan Whiteside - Fr.  182    82    889    3.7    8.2     2.2
Justin Williams - Sr.   163    93    900    4.1    7.2     1.8
Alonzo Mourning - Sr.   169   102    962    4.2    7.0     1.7
Theo Ratliff - Sr.      144    95    912    4.2    6.3     1.5
Shawn Bradley - Fr.     177   109    984    4.4    7.2     1.6

There’s only one mega-shot blocker with an NBA resume that has not committed at least three fouls per 40 minutes and that was Colgate’s Adonal Foyle, who was picking on non-scholarship Patriot League opponents in the late ‘90’s. Davis isn’t immune to foul trouble, obviously, but among shot-blockers he’s as foul-proof as one gets. The only games where his minutes were seriously limited due to fouls were against Old Dominion and Indiana. Those were two of the five games where he’s played fewer than 28 minutes. The other three were non-competitive contests. It also helps that Davis has committed just three charges this season, so he’s not going to pick up fouls on offense very often.

While I’m not sold on the idea of Kentucky’s defense being the best in the land, or even that the Wildcats are clearly the best team in the country, one thing is clear: A strategy to challenge Davis in the hope of getting him in foul trouble is likely going to end in rejection.