The Hornets are already the luckiest team in the NBA after winning the lottery, and now they just have to take that luck and make sure they use it in a way that pays off.
Because their luck has arrived in the form of Anthony Davis, though, they won't need to do much trying. He's just the kind of player that naturally makes everyone around him so much better.
What makes Davis so good isn't only about the numbers he puts up, though admittedly, that's a big part of his magic. There are a lot of power forwards in this year's draft with similar frames—6'10", 220 pounds, monster wingspan and shot-blocking potential—but not every power forward has been as difficult to defend or as impossible to shut down.
Davis is one of the few wings among this year's crop who knows how to blend his raw ability and his physicality into one seamless package that makes him impossible to contend with. He's an excellent asset on the boards, he's a good ball handler, he can score, he never gives up and he still has room to get better. Three or four years down the line, he could be Kevin Love, but better.
But Davis' skill isn't even the most significant factor that separates him from the rest of this draft class, it's his attitude. He has the kinds of leadership qualities that too many stars on the draft board often lack, year in and year out—the kinds of qualities that separate a piece of the team from a general of the team—and considering he's only a freshman and managed to take a team full of underclassmen to an NCAA title, it's even more impressive. He is, as they would say, a natural.
Recently, former teammate and fellow NBA prospect Terrence Jones told Alan Cutler of Lexington's NBC affiliate exactly why Davis is leaps and bounds above the rest of this year's prospects:
He's a great player, a special player and great off the court. He really is a fun guy to be around. He's just special on defense—blocks shots, talks and works hard in practice. He is just a great teammate and is a humble guy.
People like to talk a lot about the fact that Davis has the ability to make everyone around him better, but he does it in a different way from Bradley Beal or Kendall Marshall. He doesn't have to set up his teammates' shots or call the plays to make them better, he just has to be there to motivate them.
Davis doesn't give the impression that he needs to, or even wants to, dominate the stat line every game. He genuinely seems like he's just as happy absorbing double-teams and putting up single-digit points if it means his teammates get a chance to explode offensively and get the win themselves. It's no accident that he, with that attitude, was the leader of a team that only lost twice in 2011-12. He seems to have discovered the winning formula.
If there's one thing that's going to change the Hornets franchise entirely, it's a player like that. He doesn't have to do everything himself—he's not that kind of player. But him being there gives his teammates the freedom to do everything.
Just having him around so other young players can learn from watching the way he operates is going to change this team. It's what Davis has proven to do best—he leads.
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