Anthony Davis: 'It’s grind time now'

Anthony Davis - It’s grind time now

September 4, 2013

Perhaps fittingly for a 20-year-old who’s focused on improving his diet, Anthony Davis held one of his recent interviews with local media inside the New Orleans Saints/Pelicans cafeteria in Metairie. Davis received teamwide praise from coaches and players for his maturity off the court in his first NBA season, but appears to have further developed – both physically and mentally – after an eventful summer.

Listed at 220 pounds as a rookie, Davis confirmed the widespread belief that he’s bulked up since last season ended, showing a noticeable difference in his upper body. Through the weight training and conditioning program he’s followed under the guidance of Pelicans assistant coach/director of player performance Carlos Daniel, Davis should be able to hold his ground in the paint more effectively in 2013-14.

“I’ve gained at least 10 or 12 pounds,” Davis said, not far from the lunch line where he and his teammates will often select meals this season. “I want to gain at least five more before training camp starts. That’s the ideal goal for me and Carlos. I’ve just been (working) with Carlos a lot. They have me lifting weights. I’ve been staying on top of it, eating more, making sure I’m eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everything helps. It’s showing.”

The University of Kentucky product also appears more comfortable off the court this summer, taking on a key leadership role for the Pelicans. After New Orleans made a series of changes to its roster, Davis is now the fifth-longest tenured Pelican. The only players who’ve been with the team for longer than his one season are Al-Farouq Aminu, Eric Gordon, Jason Smith and Lance Thomas.

Davis is keeping that in mind as he helps lead the team’s ongoing voluntary workouts in Metairie. The Pelicans don’t open training camp until Oct. 1, but a double-digit number of players have already begun training together in preparation for 2013-14.

“It’s great. I’m having fun with it,” Davis said of his work this offseason. “I just want to become a better basketball player, a better person and a better teammate. I know some guys take their time off, and I did as well. But it’s grind time now. (I’m) just working as hard as I can, leading the pack. That means when we’re doing conditioning, I’m the first one (in the pack) pushing myself, so that the guys behind me are pushing themselves. Little things like that count when you’re 70 games in (to the season) and guys are tired. Or you’re playing in June. Those are things that kick in. I want to make sure I’m ready for that.”

During a week in which the Pelicans just opened the gymnasium in their new practice facility, Davis will take a brief break from voluntary workouts, but it’s for one of the best reasons you could imagine. The Chicago native is traveling back home to the Windy City to be part of a Friday ceremony at his high school, Perspectives Charter, which will have a brand-new basketball court. Davis donated $65,000 to build it.

Earlier this summer during his stint at USA Basketball’s minicamp in Las Vegas, many eyes were on 2012’s No. 1 overall draft pick. He impressed observers throughout the week during drills and scrimmages with many of the NBA’s premier players ages 25 and under. After also joining many of the sport’s elite in last summer’s London Olympics, Davis sounds like that extended time around top players has rubbed off in his approach to improvement.

“I’ve been working on everything,” Davis said. “My shot, in the post, one-dribble pull-ups. You never know when you might need something.

“All of the greats are (working on their games right now). People might not see them working, but they’re out there working. I want to be great in this league one day, so I’m trying to do the same thing they’re doing.”