Vegas Summer League 2012: Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers Duo Will Dominate
The NBA Summer League in Las Vegas is meant to get rookies and other young players acclimated to the big stage, but while most players are simply trying to get their feet wet and find a comfort level, the New Orleans Hornets' rookie duo of Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers will take the league by storm.
UPDATE: Thursday, July 12 at 2:35 p.m. ET by Mike Chiari
Davis figures to gain some valuable playing experience this offseason, but it may be in London rather than Las Vegas. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin injured his knee in a Team USA basketball scrimmage and has been sent back to L.A. for further evaluation.
That opens to door for Davis as the Americans' thin frontcourt has gotten even chintzier. Davis was one of the last cuts during the selection process as an ankle injury prevented him from practicing. The big man will get another chance, however, as Wojnarowski is also reporting that he has been summoned to Las Vegas in order to take Griffin's spot.
It is unclear how serious Griffin's injury is, but if he is forced to miss some time, then Davis will compete in the Olympics before he even plays his first NBA contest.
*END OF UPDATE*
New Orleans took Davis with the first overall selection in last month's draft and followed that up by selecting Rivers at No. 10. The Hornets may have been one of the league's worst teams last season, but if the Kentucky and Duke combination develops as hoped, they could be competing for a playoff spot immediately.
Davis is currently nursing an ankle injury that kept him out of practice for the USA men's Olympic basketball team and prevented him from making the squad, but he should be ready to play at some point.
Regardless of whether or not Davis is 100 percent, he should have no problem imposing his will.
Davis was far and away the best player in this year's draft, and nobody else was really even close. Davis was dominant as a freshman at Kentucky, particularly as a shot-blocker and rebounder, but he was also a very versatile and dangerous offensive contributor.
Will Davis and Rivers tear up the NBA Summer League?
I can't imagine there being many bigs who can match up with him on either end of the floor, so Davis is in a great position to flourish.
On top of that, Rivers should be impressive as well. Not everyone was sold on the Hornets' selection of the talented combo guard, but with much of the attention being paid to Davis, Rivers should have room to operate.
If things go according to plan, Davis and Rivers could be the league's preeminent inside-out combination a few years down the line. Both guys will have to develop in order for that to happen, but basketball fans are likely to catch a glimpse of it in the summer league, as Davis and Rivers will be taking on similarly inexperienced players.
The summer league doesn't necessarily tell the whole story of how a player will fare when the games count, but when it was last held in 2010, it was obvious that some players were going to be stars. John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Ty Lawson, in particular, were dominant—and just two years later, they are approaching All-Star level.
With that in mind, the Hornets brass would love to see its crown jewels get off to a good start.
The biggest obstacle will be overcoming hungry players. Every guy will be out to prove that he can compete with Davis and Rivers, so the Hornets will be getting maximum effort out of all their opponents.
As long as Davis and Rivers reciprocate, though, it shouldn't be a problem.
There probably isn't another team in the NBA Summer League with as much raw talent as the Hornets, and that will ultimately become very apparent. Davis and Rivers have skill sets that complement each other well, and that will allow them to showcase their abilities and torch the competition in Vegas.
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