After missing several games in November and December, the Anthony Davis story was beginning to evoke memories of Greg Odenís. Oden was selected No. 1 overall in 2007 by the Portland Trail Blazers, but played just 82 games for the franchise over five years as a result to persistent knee injuries. Davis, meanwhile, has missed 15 games for the Hornets this season, owing to a variety of injuries ranging from a concussion, a stress reaction in his ankle, and a sprained shoulder.
There were other parallels between Oden and Davis, who was selected No. 1 in the 2012 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Hornets. As Patrick Michael of Yahoo Sports wrote in this piece
in early March 2013, ďbesides the injuries, both are frontcourt players, only spent one year in college, and were selected with the first overall pick in their respective NBA drafts.Ē Yes, Oden sat out his entire first season (2007-08) in the league and in that sense there is a stark difference between Oden and Davis. But given the buzz with which Davis entered the league, his persistent injury woes were beginning to look like a bad omen for the Hornets.
Things, however, already appear to have turned the corner as a healthy Davis has looked like the player everyone spoke of in the month of March. After averaging a little over 11.0 PPG and about 7.0 RPG through January and February, Davis has posted a near double-double average of 16.0 PPG and 9.9 RPG this past month. In three stunning wins that the lottery-bound Hornets registered against Boston, Memphis and Denver at home between March 20 and March 25, Davis put up 13.7 PPG and 9.7 RPG, including a last second tip in against Boston that gave the Hornets a memorable 87-86 win.
So does this improved showing through March suddenly make Davis the top rookie of the 2012-13 class? If the answer to that question is in the affirmative, it would be most unfair to Damian Lillard who is playing lights-out for Portland this season. Through 38.5 MPG over 74 games, Lillard has averaged 19.0 PPG and 6.5 APG, while shooting 43 percent from the field. He is the undisputed numero uno on the NBA Rookie Ladder, particularly if you consider that he is the fastest player to 1,200 points and 400 assists (64 games) since Allen Iverson in 1996-97. Also, Lillard is currently one of six players this season (the others being Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook) with at least 1,300 points and 400 assists.
But Davis need not fret in losing out to Lillard. He may not end up being the ROY winner, but he has finally made his presence felt in the league. And if he can add bulk to his frame in the offseason, he would make a much more formidable frontcourt force. Perhaps finishing second best may also fire up Davis to work harder after the Hornetsí season ends and come back better for 2013-14. After all, NBA careers arenít built in the course of a single season. Itís what happens after the rookie season that really counts.
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