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NBA PM: Davis Sees Bright Future in NOLA
Posted By Alex Kennedy On December 6, 2012 @ 5:03 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Entering this season, top overall pick Anthony Davis was considered the frontrunner to win the Rookie of the Year award and expected to turn around the New Orleans Hornets. However, Davis has been sidelined for all but six games with a stress reaction in his sprained left ankle. On Friday, he’ll miss his tenth consecutive game, but it’s looking like he’ll return to the court pretty soon.
Davis hasn’t been medically cleared to practice yet, but he has been with the team and remained active. The Hornets have him on a rehab program as well as a developmental program. The 19-year-old believes he’ll be even better when he returns since he’s been observing and learning from the bench.
“Now, I’m starting to see the game from a coach’s point of view,” Davis told HOOPSWORLD. “I’m sitting on the bench, watching, looking at guy’s tendencies and seeing what they like to do. I’m seeing the flow of the game and what to do in certain situations. It’s helping me learn a lot. The coaches are helping me a lot and I’m watching a lot of film of myself and what I can do better. It just gives me time to rest and I’m just trying to learn from this and hopefully stay healthy when I come back.”
While Davis has only played in six games, he has been exceptional every time he has taken the court. Davis currently has the fourth-highest Player Efficiency Rating in the NBA at 26.36, which trails only LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan. While Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has emerged as the early frontrunner to win Rookie of the Year, his PER is just 18.49.
If Davis maintains this PER for the rest of the season, he’ll have had one of the best rookie seasons of all-time. Davis’ 26.36 PER would be the higher than just about every modern superstar during their rookie campaign including Michael Jordan (25.8), Shaquille O’Neal (22.9), Tim Duncan (22.6), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (22.5), Magic Johnson (20.6), Larry Bird (20.5), LeBron James (18.3) and Kevin Garnett (15.8).
“It’s been great so far,” Davis said of his rookie experience. “Besides some of the injuries that I’ve had, everything has been going good so far and I’m just having fun with it. I definitely love being a rookie and I definitely love playing on this stage. It’s a great experience and what I always dreamed of from day one. Now that it’s finally here, I’m just going out there and having fun with it.”
Davis insists he isn’t paying attention to this year’s Rookie of the Year race.
“Not really, I’m just out here trying to have fun,” Davis said when asked if he’s paying attention to the R.O.Y. race. “Damian Lillard is a great player and there are other rookies out there who great players as well, but I’m just out here having fun. If I win, I win. If I don’t, I don’t. I’m just out here having fun and I’m just happy to be in the league. Most guys don’t get that opportunity and God blessed me with it so I’m just out here trying to have fun and enjoy it.”
Davis has been learning alongside fellow rookies Austin Rivers, Brian Roberts and Darius Miller. The group is close and together they’ve been able to go through the ups and downs that come with being a rookie.
“We’re all rookies and we’re just glad to be here to be honest with you,” Davis said. “To experience all of this with these guys throughout the course of the year, it’s going to be fun for us.”
The Hornets are expecting to get Davis back in the next few weeks and Eric Gordon back before the end of the month. That will be the first time that New Orleans has been at full strength all season. Davis thinks this team has a lot of potential and could surprise some people this season.
“We can be very good,” Davis said of the Hornets. “We just have to defend and play hard. That’s what New Orleans basketball is and that’s what teams are used to seeing from us. We’re going to go out there and play hard. We kind of fell off from that for a couple of games, but we’re going to get right back to it. We started getting back after it in practice and we just have to have that dog in us and defend for the whole 48 minutes of the game instead of in spurts.”
While Davis hasn’t been able to do much physically while injured, he has been working a lot individually with Hornets head coach Monty Williams. They study game film and work on post moves after practices. Williams has made it clear that he’ll play Davis as soon as he’s healthy enough to go, even if it means bringing him off of the bench and gradually working him back into the rotation.
“I’m learning the little things that can definitely make me better and make the team better,” Davis said of his work with Coach Williams. “It’s as simple as keeping your foot down when you’re spinning, little things like that. He teaches that a lot, just the little things that can help make the team better. You know, boxing someone out because giving up that rebound can hurt us in the end when we’re going up against a veteran team. We’re always working on the little things and we’ll try to go from there.”
Davis couldn’t be happier in New Orleans and he’s hoping to experience success with the Hornets, or Pelicans, for years to come.
“It has embraced me well – the city of New Orleans really loves me and I love the city of New Orleans,” Davis said with a smile. “Hopefully we can have this relationship for a long time. Hopefully we can turn some things around, and maybe win a championship later on down the line.”
Meeks Getting Comfortable in Los Angeles
When the Los Angeles Lakers decided to make Mike D’Antoni their new head coach, one of the players who benefited most from the hire was shooting guard Jodie Meeks. The 25-year-old was barely playing under former Lakers head coach Mike Brown and he’s a perfect fit for D’Antoni’s system, since players who can catch-and-shoot see the floor and get plenty of opportunities to knock down shots.
Last week, Meeks proved how valuable he could be off of the Lakers’ bench. He had 15 points in 16 minutes against the Sacramento Kings. Then, in his best game since joining the Lakers, Meeks had 21 points in 17 minutes against the Denver Nuggets, knocking down seven of eight three-point attempts.
Meeks’ minutes have increased lately and he’s the first to admit that D’Antoni has made his life easier.
“I’m a lot more comfortable,” Meeks said. “I think Coach D’Antoni gives me a lot of confidence when I’m out there to just do what I do, shoot the ball with confidence when I’m open and play freely.
“It’s very nice. I just have to take smart shots, but at the same time be aggressive and I think I’m doing that. I just have to limit my mistakes when I’m out there and make shots.”
After playing in Milwaukee and Philadelphia earlier in his career, Meeks has had to adjust to the amount of attention and scrutiny that comes with playing in Los Angeles.
“In college, I was kind of used to it at Kentucky since we had a lot of media coverage but as far as the NBA, this is the biggest market I’ve seen,” Meeks said of playing in Los Angeles. “It’s nice. It’s a good problem to have. I’m glad it’s happening. You just can’t panic All eyes are on us, good or bad. What we have to do is just focus on what we have to do. That’s playing as well as we can, not getting caught up in wins and losses and just getting better every night.”
Meeks signed with the Lakers for a portion of the mid-level exception, turning down larger offers from the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards. He’s enjoying himself in L.A. and doesn’t regret his decision, even though the Lakers haven’t gotten off to the best start.
“I’m glad I picked here,” Meeks said. “I was very excited about coming here and playing with a couple Hall of Famers and a great coach. I’m glad I made the decision to come here and I’m looking forward to helping them try to win a championship.”
The Lakers are currently missing Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Steve Blake. While reserves like Meeks have stepped up, he can’t wait for those players to return so that the team will finally be at full strength.
“It’s definitely tough,” Meeks said of the Lakers’ injuries. “Those guys are really good players, but it’s another opportunity for someone else to step up. I’m looking forward to those guys getting out there. We’re definitely missing them and looking forward to them coming back.”
Meeks is still getting acclimated in Los Angeles, but he has been playing much better since D’Antoni was hired and emerging as a significant contributor for the Lakers.
Harden Trying to Recruit Stars to Houston
For years, the Houston Rockets tried to land a face-of-the-franchise player that they could build around and use to attract other stars. In recent years, they pursued a number of star players, from Chris Bosh to Carmelo Anthony to Dwight Howard, but failed to land those players through free agency or trades.
While they struck out on those elite talents, they did manage to acquire James Harden prior to the start of this season, and he may be the franchise cornerstone that they were missing. Harden is currently averaging 23.6 points per game, which is fifth-best in the NBA, and he’s emerging as a superstar in Houston. He’s also determined to help the Rockets land another star or two through free agency.
In fact, Harden recently told KGOW in Houston that he has already started recruiting some players and trying to sell them on the Rockets.
“Of course,” Harden said when asked if it’s on him to recruit players to Houston. “I’ve been starting that recruiting process. One player is not going to win a championship. Nowadays, you need two or maybe more. I’ve definitely started the recruiting process. We need more guys to come over here, so we can win. For right now, we are going to stick with the players we have and try to run with that.”
Harden is still getting acclimated in Houston and he feels the Rockets’ best basketball is ahead of them.
“I think our chemistry is definitely building every single day between the practices and the games, so I think a few more weeks and we’ll be together on the same page a lot of times,” Harden said. “It’s going pretty well.”
Harden is also adjusting to being a full-time starter for the first time his career.
“It’s a lot different, coming off the bench with authority and then [starting], having a lot more opportunity, having a lot more shots and the ball in my hands a lot more,” Harden said. “It’s something I’m still trying to get used to and adjusted to, but it feels good.”
Houston’s other offseason acquisition, Jeremy Lin, has been solid through 17 games, averaging 10.5 points, 6.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and two steals. Harden has enjoyed playing with Lin.
“He’s done a great job,” Harden said of Lin. “It’s his first year, too, as a starting point guard, and starting the year off as a point guard, so we both have a lot to learn together. He’s a great player. He can create on the ball and shoot the ball as well. He’s a great point guard.”
Harden has already started to turn the Rockets around and he may be the key to Houston becoming a contender, especially if he can recruit another star or two in the coming years.
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