Anthony Davis had a quiet start to his Olympiad with Team USA. Davis amounted only three points and three rebounds in Team USA's rout of France in its first group play game on Sunday. That belies the experience he's found that will lead to a spectacular rookie season.
Davis is in the midst of a spectacular pre-rookie season as the only soon-to-be first-year player on Team USA and the third since 1992.
Both of the players who had done so previously shone in their rookie seasons. Christian Laettner went from being the 12th man on the 1992 Dream Team to averaging 18.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and making the All-Rookie First Team in 1992-93.
Emeka Okafor was the last man on the 2004 Team USA bench, and went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award.
To be sure, there's a big difference between Okafor's draft class and those of Laettner and Davis. Among the best players of the slim 2004 class were Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala and Luol Deng. The 1992 draft featured two future Hall of Famers in Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning and another very good player in Latrell Spreewell.
Davis' class includes such potential phenoms as Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Damian Lillard.
Lillard might have readied himself well for his first season with a strong summer league run and MKG might go in with an edge. However, neither will go in with the experience that Davis will have during this Olympiad.
Davis receives excellent pre-NBA grounding by being on an Olympic squad with several of the best players in the game. He'll be able to learn from such greats as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. He'll be able to gather information from the lessons they've learned about conditioning and competing in the NBA.
Also, he'll be able to get used to being on the same court as these stars. A Team USA assistant pointed out the opportunity that the Kentucky product has by telling the Wall Street Journal, "It's about getting over that fear of seeing these guys for the first time."
By now, the long-armed prodigy should be over the awe he might have felt upon seeing the other United States Olympians during the first game of any consequence on Sunday. He'll become more and more accustomed with what they do as the Olympiad goes along.
Davis will be better able to compete with premier players in the regular season since he's played with this group of elite players. He'll be better able to sense when the best players turn on their engines and how to respond in those instances.
Once he watches players like Kobe and LeBron in the late stages of the Olympics, he'll have a strong understanding of how to prepare for a big game.
Other soon-to-be first-year players are missing out on the lessons that Davis is receiving. Players like Beal and Lillard don't have the chance to gain pointers from a collection of the game's best while competing for an Olympic gold. With those Olympic minutes and Olympic admonishments, he's sure to be raising hardware at the end of the season.
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