New Orleans Hornets: Was It a Mistake for Anthony Davis to Play in the Olympics?

Louis GertlerContributor IIAugust 3, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02:  Members of The United States team watch play from the bench in the second half against Nigeria during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 6 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on August 2, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If you are Anthony Davis, of course you accept an invitation to be a member of the US basketball team. It is one of the highest honors a basketball player can achieve—to be asked to play for his country in the Olympics.

The question, however, is whether Davis' budding career was best served by his joining the Olympic team after Blake Griffin went down with a knee injury.

In other words, would it have benefited Davis more to have played for the Hornets' Las Vegas summer league team?

At first, this may sound like a no-brainer.

The level of Olympic competition and the quality of the US team are light years beyond what Davis would have experienced in Vegas playing with and against a bunch of rookies and marginal NBA players who are just trying to get noticed.

The problem is that Davis has been relegated to garbage time minutes on the Olympic team, only entering the game when things are well in hand. In fact, in the close exhibition game against Brazil, Davis never even saw the court.

He is literally the last player off the bench.

If Davis had played instead in Vegas he not only would have had significant playing time, he would have been "the Man" on the team.

He also would have begun learning the Hornets' system and the terminology that coach Monty Williams will employ this season. And, he would have had the experience of playing alongside fellow rookie Austin Rivers, at least for a few games.

But there is one major benefit that Davis can gain from his Olympic experience that he never could from the summer league, even if he never sees action again in London.

Davis has had a unique opportunity to learn from the best in the game before he even steps on an NBA court.

Think about what he has picked up from practicing regularly with NBA megastars like Kobe, LeBron  and Chris Paul. The wisdom he has gleaned from having the opportunity to guard these players in intra-squad scrimmages.

How about the tips that current Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler can relay to the young defensively-minded big man?

The Olympic experience has provided Davis with a rare and precious opportunity: He has had a chance to learn from the best in the game before he even begins his rookie season.

Although there is no substitute for significant playing time, it is this once-in-a-lifetime learning experience that tips the scales in favor of the Olympics as far as Davis' development goes.

As a Hornets fan, I just hope he has taken advantage of this opportunity and learned a lot.

Because no matter how highly touted a rookie is, adjusting to life in the NBA is never easy.