Anthony Davis: The Real Pressure Begins Now for the No. 1 Overall Draft Pick
For the last three months, it's all been fun for Anthony Davis.
He's been able to revel in the spotlight after leading Kentucky to a national championship. He's been the recipient of abundant adoration from fans, coaches and pundits alike as the consensus top prospect in this year's draft.
However, as of Thursday night—when commissioner David Stern read his name in front of the crowd at the Prudential Center and officially sent him to New Orleans—the fun is over.
Now, it's win or bust.
The track records of former No. 1 draft picks aren't all stellar. Kyrie Irving did his part to redeem them this season when he became the Rookie of the Year, but being chosen first far from guarantees instant success. That is especially the case when you're joining a team that seems to be going nowhere fast.
The Hornets aren't that far off from being a contender in the West. They finished dead last in the conference 2011-12, but after this draft—when they also picked up Austin Rivers and Darius Miller—they're in a better position than teams like Sacramento, Golden State, Minnesota and Portland, all of whom finished ahead of them last season.
In 2010-11, the Hornets were a playoff team. They've made the postseason in three of the last five years, and they have a core of young talent that is now very capable of getting back there. This makes Davis' job all the scarier. He should be able to right the ship in New Orleans, which means there's much more pressure facing him than there is facing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Bradley Beal.
Will the Hornets make the playoffs next year?
Unless he gets New Orleans to the playoffs next year—obviously, it's much easier said than done—he'll be considered a bust.
The expectations levied on top picks are rarely fair. No one can expect Anthony Davis to single-handedly redeem the Hornets and bring them to playoff salvation. Even if he puts up 30 points and 15 rebounds every game for the next year, his supporting cast could flounder and the Hornets could find themselves back in the Western Conference basement.
Thinking about that pressure—to bring a terrible team to the postseason or be considered a bust—can be brutal for a 19-year-old, no matter how prepared he thinks he is.
The test won't be whether or not Davis can establish himself as the next Rookie of the Year, the test will be tuning out the talk and just playing basketball.
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