New Orleans Hornets: 5 Reasons Why Anthony Davis Won't Win 2013 ROY Award
Anthony Davis was considered the only sure thing in last month's NBA Draft. He was heralded as a once-in-a-generation cornerstone big man with the talent to turn around a franchise.
That kind of high praise makes him a lock to win the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year, right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
There are a number of reasons to like Davis' chances. He's an elite shot-blocker and he's joining a Hornets team that is quickly rising from the basement. He's the most recognizable person in this year's draft class thanks to a championship run with Kentucky and that unfortunate uni-brow of his.
However, while Davis will enter this season as the prohibitive favorite to take home top rookie honors, there are a few factors that could stand in the No. 1 overall pick's way.
Here are the top five reasons Anthony Davis won't win the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year.
5. Austin Rivers Is the More Pro-Ready Hornets Rookie
Anthony Davis was drafted as New Orleans' future face of the franchise. He's going to be their cornerstone and the guy the team builds around.
The key word is "future". Davis is going to need time to grow before he becomes a certified NBA superstar.
The same may not be true of fellow Hornets rookie Austin Rivers. As the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and as someone who spent a season under Coach K at Duke, Rivers has a great pedigree and is more "pro-ready" than the still-developing Davis.
Rivers is a dynamic scorer with a deadly jumper and his offense is every bit as important to New Orleans' success as Davis' defense. Rivers is going to be the flashier of the two and his ability to put the ball in the basket will grab some attention.
The biggest obstacle for Rivers' ROTY chances will be playing time. If he can't grasp point guard duties right off the bat, his best bet of seeing the floor will be in place of Eric Gordon.
Davis, meanwhile, is already entrenched as the team's center.
Going forward, Davis will be the better player. Once he develops a more consistent offense and gets better acclimated in the pros, he'll be an absolute force in the NBA. However, if we're talking who is more likely to have a bigger impact this season, Rivers' game would give him the slight advantage.
4. He's Not the Hornets' Alpha Dog
When looking back at the past ROTY winners of the last decade, they all seem to have one thing in common: they were all the best player on their team.
With the recent acquisition of forward Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis is either the third- or fourth-best player on the Hornets right now, depending on how you feel about Austin Rivers.
What does that mean for Davis' chances of being the NBA's top rookie?
Well, when determining the league's best rookie, you always want to ask "How much did this kid's presence impact the team's overall success?". The Cavaliers and Clippers, respectively, didn't win much with past ROTY winners Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin, but you could tell the difference of how their teams performed when they were on the court as opposed to when they weren't.
If the Hornets become a breakout team next year, a lot of things would have to fall into place for Davis to get a bulk of the credit. Eric Gordon would have to get hurt. Ryan Anderson would have to flop, as would Austin Rivers.
Of course, if those things happen, chances are that the Hornets won't be very successful. Davis would have to emerge as the team's alpha dog almost instantaneously to take consideration from his fellow rookies.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is already the best player on the Bobcats and, if he can improve them dramatically, he'll be a better choice to be this year's top rookie than Davis would. If Bradley Beal isn't the best player on the Wizards right now, he's at the very least a close second.
Davis has to make voters believe that he's the chief reason behind the Hornets' success. That's a tough task to ask of a 19-year-old kid with an average offensive game, especially when other rookies are in better situations to stand out.
3. The Depth of This Year's Rookie Class
The best thing about last month's draft was the depth. When guys who were once considered lottery picks like Perry Jones and Jared Sullinger are being taken in the bottom part of the first round, you have quite the crop of rookies.
Anthony Davis may have the brightest future of everyone in this draft class, but that doesn't mean he won't have some steady competition in Year One for the honor of being the league's best rookie.
There were a number of players who seemed to be drafted in the perfect situation for them to succeed. I've mentioned Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bradley Beal already, but guys like Golden State's Harrison Barnes, Sacramento's Thomas Robinson and Toronto's Terrence Ross have a chance to break out early.
As much as I like what Davis will provide for the Hornets, Beal is my pick to win the Rookie of the Year. He's explosive and in a situation in Washington where he can really stand out. Plus, he plays in an Eastern Conference where it will be easier to make the playoffs than it will be for Davis out West.
Barnes fits right in on a Warriors team that needed a small forward to complete what looks like an exciting starting five. Robinson will benefit on a Kings team where center DeMarcus Cousins draws attention in the paint. Ross, meanwhile, has sleeper written all over him.
Kyrie Irving was fortunate enough to win Rookie of the Year last year despite missing 19 games due to injury. A large part of that is due to the weakness of his rookie class and the fact that Ricky Rubio's season was derailed by a torn ACL.
Anthony Davis isn't going to have that same luck. For Davis to emerge as the best of this gifted pack, he'll have to fend off some serious contenders. You can make the case for at least 12 rookies besides Davis to win this year's Rookie of the Year. I can't think of the last time you could have said that about a rookie class.
Davis may be the draft's only "sure thing" but him winning Rookie of the Year is far from a certainty.
2. Davis Doesn't Score Enough
Anthony Davis may be a world-class defender as well as a monster on the boards, but his offensive game is a bit lacking.
In his only season at Kentucky, Davis averaged 14.5 points a game for the Wildcats. Now, part of that can be attributed to the vast amount of talent Davis had around him. It can also speak volumes about the work that still needs to be done on Davis as a scorer.
The fact that Davis is more Bill Russell than Bill Walton isn't necessarily a bad thing, except that the Rookie of the Year has traditionally gone to scorers. In the past decade, the Rookie of the Year has gone to a player averaging less than 14 points per game just once. Amar'e Stoudemire averaged 13.5 a game in the 2002-03 season.
When adding up the scoring averages of the other nine winners, the average points per game was 18.5. As mentioned before, Davis is up against some heavy hitters for this award. Bradley Beal is going to score. The same for Terrence Ross, Harrison Barnes, Dion Waters and Damian Lillard. Even Austin Rivers is likely to outscore his rookie teammate.
Granted, Davis will probably have better rebounding and defensive statistics than that group, but Davis is also going to have to do a bit of scoring as well. Unless his rebounds and blocks are off the charts, Davis will need to do better than the 14.5 points per game he averaged for Kentucky to impress voters.
Davis is going to get his share of points off of offensive rebounds, dunks, tip-ins and alley-oops, but he's going to have to develop a jump hook or mid-range jumper to make himself more dangerous on the offensive end.
Davis doesn't have the bulk to overpower defenders in the NBA, so he's going to have to be crafty if he's going to live up to his potential on both ends of the court.
It took Anthony Davis just a matter of days to register his first injury as an NBA pro.
While the sprained ankle Davis suffered while working out isn't as serious as initially feared, it was still enough to make Hornets fans gasp and give Coach K and Jerry Colangelo reason to keep Davis off a center-needy Olympic team.
The past two big men to go No. 1 overall, Blake Griffin and Greg Oden, missed their first season in the NBA because of injury. Griffin inevitably bounced back and has played nearly every game since. The same can't be said for Oden, whose career is pretty much over after numerous knee injuries.
Davis' ankle sprain isn't enough to group him in with a guy like Oden, but it's enough to wonder whether this was just an isolated incident or a harbinger of things to come. The most important factor to Davis' ROTY candidacy and his NBA future is his ability to stay healthy.
Throughout NBA history, big men like Davis have been the most susceptible to injury. Other than Oden, we've seen guys like Yao Ming, Bill Walton and Sam Bowie have their careers sidetracked by injuries. Marcus Camby and Amar'e Stoudemire have had numerous run-ins with the injury bug in their careers.
Davis has given New Orleans enough of a scare with this ankle injury. He has to prove he can stay on the court if he stands a chance at winning the Rookie of the Year. With his athleticism and defensive-minded game, Davis draws comparisons to Camby and Theo Ratliff. Both of those men were injury-prone.
Davis has to manage to emulate what those guys did on the court while not replicating what led to them being off the court.
If he can't, he'll be just another in a long line of promising big men whose body failed them at the worst possible time.