The first overall pick from the 2012 NBA draft Anthony Davis is just about ready to enter his second season. The newly named New Orleans Pelicans had many of their hopes nullified last year throwing out a bit of a dud despite the draft day additions of Davis and shooting guard Austin Rivers. The team’s high hopes were probably a little premature, but the 2013-14 season hopes really rest strongly on Davis making some significant improvements.
New Orleans certainly didn’t stand pat during the offseason. They added point guard Jrue Holiday from the Philadelphia 76ers, they added Tyreke Evans from the Sacremento Kings and they should have the fully healthy services of Eric Gordon. There’s some serious scoring on this roster this season. One of the bigger concerns for this line-up might actually be ball distribution. How will Gordon, Evans and Holiday all get their shots? That doesn’t even consider the probable future of the team in Davis and Rivers.
For his own part, Davis’ rookie season was something of a mixed bag. Injury troubles disrupted his start and he was never quite able to translate his dominant college game on both sides of the floor to the NBA. He still averaged a very respectable 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, and showed enough promise to suggest that the 20-year old could one day emerge as one of the league’s biggest stars.
He will be given less leeway in his second season especially considering the higher levels of talent among the supporting cast. However, the departure of Greivis Vasquez could make things just a little more difficult for Davis than many people forget. Vasquez was a strong distributor of the ball and probably the player who worked most effectively in terms of chemistry with Davis last season. Holiday has the ability to be that distributor, but he is also a player very much used to taking shots. Add the returning Gordon and fellow new addition Evans into the mix, and suddenly the prospect of Davis being the centerpiece of the offense is looking a little less likely.
Of even more frustration for Davis will be the lack of serious inside depth on this roster. Davis is an extremely lean (though also athletic) power forward, but there is a serious chance that he could be thrust into the center role during the course of the year. The reason for that is the presence of the pretty skilled Ryan Anderson as a player who could play at power forward, while Jason Smith, Greg Stiemsma and Jeff Withey are somehow expected to split time at the 5-spot based on current line-up projections. As good as Davis is, it’s hard to imagine him finding his NBA game as a center.
New Orleans as a franchise is probably still a couple of seasons away from being a serious playoff contender let alone a genuine contender again. However, it is intriguing that this team has been built in a way that doesn’t obviously benefit the centerpiece of the organization in Davis. A big, physical and tough inside presence and distributing point guard would be the obvious perfect pieces to make this ‘Davis’ team’ and to start building a potential future contender around him.
Of course great players turn every situation into their advantage and Pelicans head coach Monty Williams will be relying upon Davis to do just that. Attention on other players in training camp and early season might just benefit a young man blessed with tremendous talent. Davis may still be finding himself in an imperfect situation, but his potential for success is still very much placed firmly in his hands.