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Rising Star Anthony Davis Has All-Star Dreams
Posted By Susan Bible On February 17, 2013 @ 5:56 pm In All Star,Friday,Main Page | No Comments
Anthony Davis could not have scripted a better performance with his New Orleans Hornets in the final game before heading to the All-Star Break. After enduring a rough four-game shooting and rebounding slump (averaging 4.75 points and 5.5 rebounds vs. his season averages of 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds), perhaps the reality of facing his primary competition for the NBA’s 2012-13 Rookie of the Year award – Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers – was sufficient motivation. In that last game, Davis recorded 21 points and 11 rebounds to help carry the Hornets to a dominating 99-63 win over the Blazers.
It has certainly not been a cakewalk for Davis in his rookie season. Expectations were high for the NBA’s number one pick in the 2012 Draft, but injuries kept him sidelined during 13 games early in the season. Things seem to be going in the right direction now though. Playing less than 28 minutes, Davis leads all rookies in blocks per game (1.9), steals (1.2) and defensive rebounds (5.2), and he is tied with the Detroit Pistons’ Andre Drummond for the highest number of total rebounds.
As is the case for many rookies, the transition from college to the NBA does not always prove to be an easy one. HOOPSWORLD met with Davis during the All-Star break in Houston, where he explained some of the challenges he’s waded through thus far.
“You figure out how you want to play in the league; your game is going to change,” Davis said. “Your coaches are going to want you to do things you don’t want to do. So you’ve just to go out there and decide to pick up new things and learn from the guys who are the best.”
Davis’ confidence seems to be growing as he gets acclimated to what offenses are throwing his way. It’s clear the Hornets, presently ranked 13th in the Western Conference (19-34), are bringing him in at a slow pace by design.
The 19-year-old forward/center was selected to participate in the 2013 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge held during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend. In this event, two teams comprised of superior rookie and sophomore players in the league are pitted against each other. Serving as general managers, Charles Barkley (“Team Chuck”) and Shaquille O’Neal (“Team Shaq”) drafted players from a pool as voted by NBA assistant coaches. Davis was the first player picked by Team Chuck while Team Shaq opted for Lillard with his first choice.
Davis explained the importance of being part of the All-Star festivities so early in his career and his desire to appear in the All-Star Game next February.
“It means a lot,” he said. “This weekend is going to be big. Watching years ago and now being a part of it, it’s a dream come true. I just can’t wait ‘til the next time I’ll be here, hopefully this next year, playing (the All-Star Game) on Sunday.”
With a host of veteran players surrounding him in Houston over the weekend, we wondered who in particular would he favor spending time with, i.e. whose brain would he most like to pick?
“Anybody,” Davis answered. “Anytime I get a chance to talk to a veteran, I’m definitely going to, just because they have so much advice to give to me.”
Team Chuck opted for a frontcourt size advantage on his team by choosing Davis (6’10) along with others such as Kenneth Faried (6’8), Nikola Vucevic (6’10), Kawhi Leonard (6’7) and Tristan Thompson (6’8). At the conclusion of Friday night’s Rising Stars Challenge, Barkley’s team came away the victory with a score of 163-135. Davis exhibited well-rounded abilities, logging 11 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and a steal. The first shot he made was a three-pointer, and he brought the ball down the court, showing point guard skills.
Also on Team Chuck was 5’9 Isaiah Thomas of the Sacramento Kings, who had a solid first-half showing.
“He can shoot the ball well, handle it,” Davis said of Thomas. “To be so short, he seems like he’s so tall, he never backs down from anyone. He never backs down from any challenge. He’s works, he’s one of the hardest-working on the team.”
With just 40 NBA games under his belt, Davis is beginning to understand what it will take to remain relevant in this league, namely in terms of improvement, going forward.
“Me personally, I’m trying to get stronger, make sure I stay in NBA condition.” he explained to us. “You’ve got to take care of your body. If you don’t do that, you won’t be in the league very long. So take care of my body and keep just working.”
He appears to be on the right track. He currently has an impressive 20.5 Player Efficiency Rating (PER), logging nine double-doubles so far. One can only speculate what he could do with more playing time. In a “Per 36 Minutes” format, he averages 16.2 points, 2.4 blocks and 9.7 rebounds. At such a tender age with incredible physical tools, his potential is off the charts.
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