August 27th, 2012
The New Orleans Hornets are set to reap the benefits this season from Anthony Davis’ time with Team USA. Instead of lifting weights and running suicide drills this summer, the No. 1 overall pick had the luxury of playing with and against the greatest basketball players in the world.
Davis didn’t see a ton of action in London, but he gave the world a little taste of everything in his arsenal. He showed off the range on his jumper by nailing a three in an exhibition game against the Dominican Republic. He blocked a few shots here and there. He showed off his athleticism by being on the receiving end of some nice lobs from Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
The former Kentucky Wildcat’s best game came against Tunisia. He hit every shot he took, going 5-for-5 from the field and 2-for-2 from the line. He finished with 12 points and added three rebounds. He also displayed his defensive prowess by blocking a shot and coming up with a steal.
However, the thing that Davis gained that will be the most beneficial to the Hornets won’t be found on a stat sheet. In an interview with NOLA.com, Davis said that playing on Team USA did wonders for his confidence.
“Those guys on the Olympic team treated me like I belonged and it boosted my confidence. When I got in games, I felt more confidence. They talked to me and told me what to do, so it definitely was great.” Davis said. “A lot of them shared their perspective on the game and the whole team took me under their wings and showed me the ropes.” he continued.
Let’s think about this for a second.
If you were starting a franchise, who better to help mold your franchise player than guys like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant?
While the rest of Davis’ rookie class will learn about the NBA once the season starts, Davis was getting pointers from the greats of the game. That experience helps speed up the learning curve for a raw 19-year-old big man expected to turn around a franchise.
The experience and the confidence gained in London will pay dividends for Davis and the Hornets. He now has a feel of what is and will be expected of him. He’s already had a taste of guys like Serge Ibaka and Pau Gasol, whom he’ll collide with numerous times throughout his career.
Like he said, the team made him feel like he belongs. He won’t be as rattled by the grind of his first season as the other rookies.
For New Orleans, they have a potential franchise-saving rookie who now has the confidence of a seasoned veteran. Youth and inexperience were going to hinder this Hornets team early on, but Davis’ overseas schooling makes those hurdles less of an issue.
In the long run, Blake Griffin injuring his knee may be the best thing that happened to the New Orleans Hornets this year. Granted, Davis won’t have the world-class supporting cast in New Orleans that he did in Team USA, but he has a better understanding of how to handle his situation.
Davis was already the odds-on favorite to win the Rookie of the Year. Time will tell whether he follows through on those expectations. For now, he’s a 19-year-old gold medalist who is ready to take the NBA by storm.
The Hornets have to be elated.
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