LeBron James' Endorsement of Anthony Davis Signals Big Season for Star Rookie

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IOctober 29, 2012

October 24, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Hornets power forward Anthony Davis (23) during the first half of a preseason game against the Houston Rockets at the New Orleans Arena. The Rockets defeated the Hornets 97-90. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

According a blog post by ESPN's Tom Haberstroh, the best player in the league has some very nice things to say about the youngster who could soon join him among the elite. 

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, LeBron James has given New Orleans Hornets rookie and reigning No. 1 pick Anthony Davis a ringing endorsement, calling him a "heck of a player." 

The comments came after the Hornets defeated James' Miami Heat in the final preseason game by a score of 96-89.  Davis had 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting while also pulling down 11 rebounds and coming away with three steals and a blocked shot as well.

Davis was already in store for a great rookie season, but this praise from James adds quite a bit more to what fans can expect from him.  Keep in mind, when rookies first enter the league, they have a common goal: play well enough so that your team can justify keeping you around for more than a season, not to mention playing effectively so as not to be labeled a bust. 

Yet, there is something more to Davis' rookie year now.  He has the reigning MVP's respect and praise, and he will resultingly play with an extra bounce in his step so that someday, he can dethrone him.

Now, before we go any further, it's completely possible that Davis' performance against Miami this past Friday was just him having a good night. 

After all, the man is just 19 years old and has yet to appear in a single NBA regular-season game, let alone a game where the starters are usually in from start to finish.  Yet, there is just something special about Davis that screams the fact that he'll set a new standard for NBA rookies.

Keep in mind, Davis is pretty special compared to other first-year players the NBA has seen in recent years.  Just two months after being drafted, he was celebrating with LeBron James and the rest of Team USA in London as the star-studded squad received their gold medals. 

Before training camp even started, he had gone through an experience that almost no rookies have, representing his home country with the best players in the game. 

Granted, he was the 12th man, but one can only imagine the advice and tutelage he received from the likes of James, Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant.  In fact, when I interviewed Paul before the Olympics, he had nothing but good things to say about his young teammate. 

That being said, Davis has a distinct advantage compared to the rest of his draft classmates and given his work ethic, he's going to blow everyone away in 2012-13.

Helping Davis in his quest is the fact that the New Orleans Hornets are finally out from under the thumb of the NBA thanks to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson purchasing the team towards the end of last season. 

The team has a new identity and can now write off the fluke that was last season, seeing as how the team's star in Paul had just been traded to the Los Angeles Clippers and new star Eric Gordon was limited to nine games all season long.  With a great young core headlined by these two, the Hornets will get their sting back and Davis will be highly motivated with James' endorsement in the back of his mind.

More importantly, we're forgetting that Davis is a product of the University of Kentucky system coached by John Calipari.  This is a coach who is known for preparing his players for the NBA, as many of those he has coached in his career have opted for the professional level after just one year of school. 

This list of players includes not only Davis, but also Chicago Bulls point guard and 2010-11 MVP Derrick Rose and current Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.  Also, let's not forget Washington Wizards point guard John Wall.

Simply put, Davis has had the tools for a great season the whole time.  He played his college ball under a coach known for getting players ready for the NBA, won a national championship, was selected first overall in the draft and, most important of all, he represented the United States at the Olympics with some of the best players in the game.  It might as well have been a seminar for him on how to adjust to the pros. 

In terms of James' endorsement, that's just the icing on the cake.

That being said, we should all be extremely excited for the rookie season of Anthony Davis.  Though primarily a defensive player, his offensive game is slowly coming into its own, and with a little extra time in the weight room, the man is going to become a truly great player.

And who knows?  A few years from now, perhaps we'll all be talking about Davis and LeBron James will be the second banana.