Is Marcus Banks the Next Baron Davis?

Like objects in a car door mirror, these players are closer than they appear. And I'll prove it, inside. Conclusion: don't trade him again just yet, Danny.


Marcus Banks was traded to the LA Lakers as part of a package for Gary Payton, then returned to being a Celtic when Payton refused to show up for a physical and the deal had to be renegotiated.

Our own Eric Pincus, who was among the first to break that first trade days before it happened, reports that within the next several weeks, we could see yet another Celtics-Lakers trade involving Banks, this time in exchange for Luke Walton. Other players could also be involved.

There have been rumblings that new head coach Doc Rivers is unimpressed with his game and would like to move him.

Given all this activity, interest,  and movement, it is imperative to get a true assessment of the talent and the value of Marcus Banks.

The downside is he's the next Robert Pack: a change-of-pace point guard perennially subbing in for 15-20 minutes a game, a career journeyman. For what it's worth, I saw Pack play his rookie year for Portland against Phoenix. He might just have been even faster and quicker than Banks. Coincidentally enough, it was Pack's teammate Danny Ainge's last year as a Blazer. He would go on to be a Sun.

(As an aside, one of Ainge's favorite warmups seemed to be sprinting the whole length of the court then popping a three-pointer. A three-point fast break.)

You could have said the exact same things about Pack as you would say today about Banks. He can get into the paint at will. If you blink he's on the other end of the court. He swarms opposing guards on defense. He is a bundle of boundless energy.

There is another point guard cut from the same cloth, and his name is Baron Davis. As a rookie on Charlotte, he was not the MVP candidate that he displayed in the first half of last season. He was a fast, defensive ball of energy.

Here is a comparison of the rookie years of all three players.

Banks 17.1 40.0% 31.4% 75.6% 1.60 2.20 1.09 1.54 2.10 5.9
Pack 12.4 42.3% 0.0% 80.3% 1.30 1.90 0.56 1.28 1.40 4.6
Davis 18.6 42.0% 22.5% 63.4% 2.00 3.80 1.18 1.71 2.50 5.9

Two things pop out from this table:

1) Banks and Davis got about the same number of points, steals, turnovers, fouls, and rebounds in about the same number of minutes, but Davis had a significantly higher assist rate.

2) Banks and Pack are nowhere near each other in terms of steals. Banks has a clear advantage.

You have read less than half of this article. The rest, including some perspective on Banks leading the league last year in steals per 48 minutes, the significance of such an event to the Celtic organization, a comparison of collegiate numbers between Banks and Davis, insight as to what Banks thinks of Davis, a further comparison of Banks with Pack, and more, is available only to NEWS@ subscribers.

For the full article, click here then scroll down to where the first bold line says "Steals," to continue where you've left off.

To jump directly to the list of the top three leaders in steals per 48 minutes over the last 15+ season, click here.

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Banks led everyone in the league last year with 3.05 steals per 48 minutes. That is a large part, if not the biggest part, of what Banks brings to the table, so let's put it in perspective.

If Banks were to average 40 minutes per game, meaning he is playing on a team built around him or of which he is a large part, he would average 2.54 steals per game.

If he averaged that for his career, that would place him third on the list of All-Time leaders. Let me repeat that. That would place him THIRD, pushing Allen Iverson down to fourth and Michael Jordan down to fifth, and behind only Alvin Robertson and Michael Ray Richardson. Doc Rivers, currently 30th, would be booted off the list entirely. Check it out here. (And for that little conspiracy-minded guy you and I are both harboring inside our otherwise trusting souls, let me just say this: No, I don't think preserving his own record is why Rivers wants to move Banks. If that were the motivation, he would rather keep him and bench him.)

Let's keep looking. What about the number of steals in a single season? The record is Alvin Robertson's, with 301. Robertson also holds several other spots on the list (see it here).

No Celtic appears on the top 100 list of all-time steals in a single season. Not Dennis Johnson, not Larry Bird, not John Havlicek (though to be fair they only started counting in his last few seasons).

Not one Celtic.

Marcus Banks could be the first one. Again assuming for the sake of argument that he is the future of the franchise, Banks would average 2.54 steals per game, as above, for 82 games. It would be his best year. He would collect a whopping total of 208 steals at that rate.

That would put Banks at number 49, pushing Magic Johnson's 1981-82 campaign down to 50th.

There's another way of looking at it. We can look at past years and look at who led the league in steals per 48 minutes. Here is a list going back all the way to the 1988-1989 season. Other than the past three seasons, I took the data from here. The complete table is in a companion article.

The past several seasons, the likes of Ron Artest, Doug Christie, Allen Iverson, and, yes, Baron Davis have graced the list. Davis was in the top three in that category in only one year -- his first -- when his pace was right on track with Banks last season.

That's the crux of the issue: can Banks become the next Baron Davis? He doesn't have the frame, being a couple inches shorter and a couple dozen pounds lighter, but he has the quickness and the propensity to score. Compare each of their last years in college:

Banks 36.1 51.4% 33.6% 75.7% 3.40 5.50 2.80 3.90 2.70 20.3
Davis 30.7 48.1% 34.3% 59.9% 3.60 5.10 2.50 3.30 3.48 15.9

It should be clear that Banks knows how to rack up assists. He is no stranger to no-look passes, alley-oops, and just generally working the ball around.

I spoke with Banks back in January (if you do a Google search for Marcus Banks and Baron Davis it is the first hit). The first player to come to his mind in terms of who his favorite point guard was, ahead of Jason Kidd despite the fact that we had just mentioned him and he was that night's matchup, was Baron Davis. He likes his explosiveness and his leadership ability.

Banks already has that same explosiveness. He will have quite a mentor in Gary Payton to teach him how to be a leader on the court.

Is it out of the question that Banks can develop into the next Baron Davis? It took Davis all of one season to break out into a star. He started all 82 games his sophomore season, averaging double-digit points and more than 7 assists per game. Since then, he has been a staple of amazing ability for the Hornets. The verdict on Banks won't be allowed to come in until at least his third year if Payton is playing in front of him, but that might still be a terrific transitioning period for him.

Banks's stats are superior to or comparable with Davis's, both in college and in their rookie years, with the exception of Davis's better assists numbers his freshman year. Banks is a far better on-the-ball defender than Robert Pack was.

But even if the best year Banks has is the best year Pack ever had -- his 1995-1996 Washington campaign when he averaged 18.1 points, 7.8 assists, and 4.3 rebounds -- that too would not be half bad.

All of this is just a word of warning to Rivers, Ainge, and anyone else that was thinking of letting the explosive guard go. With the right coaching and chemistry, he could develop into something very special. With his speed and defense, he will always have a place in the NBA, so his value, effectively, will always have a floor. But the ceiling? The ceiling could be astronomical.

You don't trade potential when their value is near the bottom. Otherwise, your counterparty will be laughing (attention: pun coming) all the way to the Banks.


Marcus Banks 3.05
Leandro Barbosa 2.98
Manu Ginobili 2.89

Ron Artest 3.29
Doug Christie 3.19
Earl Watson 3.13

Ron Artest 4.12
Allen Iverson 3.08
John Stockton 2.84

Ron Artest 3.1
Doug Christie 3.0
Allen Iverson 2.9

Eddie Jones 3.3
Darrel Armstrong 3.1
Baron Davis 3.1

Kendall Gill 4.0
Greg Anthony 3.9
Jon Barry/Darrell Armstrong 3.5

Brevin Knight 3.8
Erick Murdock 3.5
Mookie Blaylock 3.2

Randy Brown 3.7
Mookie Blaylock 3.3
Jerome Kersey 3.2

Eric Murdock 3.9
Mookie Blaylock 3.5
Gary Payton 3.5

Nate McMillan 3.8
Elliot Perry 3.8
Scottie Pippen 3.7

Nate McMillan 5.5
Jon Barry 3.9
Fat Lever 3.9

Nate McMillan 4.2
Michael Jordan 3.5
Mookie Blaylock 3.5

Alvin Robertson 4.1
Michael Williams 4.1
John Stockton 3.9

Alvin Robertson 4.5
Michael Williams 4.2
Lester Conner 4.0

Alvin Robertson 3.8
Lester Conner 3.5
John Stockton 3.4

John Stockton 4.0
Gary Grant 3.6
Doc Rivers 3.5