Nearly two years ago, the ping-pong balls bounced our way and New Orleans won the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery. With the No. 1 pick, New Orleans selected "once-in-a-generation" prospect Anthony Davis from the University of Kentucky. And in just two seasons, Davis has met and EXCEEDED those expectations, developing into the most dynamic big man in the game.
A First-Team All-Rookie selection, Davis finished the 2012-13 season with 20 double-doubles, most among rookies, and placed second in the Rookie of the Year voting. In his sophomore campaign, the 6-foot-10-inch forward/center showed no signs of slowing down as he raised his per-game averages in points, rebounds, blocks, steals and assists. For his efforts, the Chicago native was named to his first, but definitely not last, All-Star Game making Davis just the eighth 20-year-old to be named to the All-Star team in NBA history (Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving).
"You can truly build a great team around this young man. I love to see him play." - Karl Malone, NBA Hall-of-Famer on Anthony Davis
"He's one of those once-in-a-generation type players and he's proving it now. He's having a phenomenal season." - Kevin Durant, NBA All-Star on Anthony Davis
But Davis isn't the sole reason the Pelicans are on their way to becoming a playoff team. The frontcourt is a continued source of size, strength and, most importantly, scoring. Led by one of the best offensive forwards in the league, Ryan Anderson, this group can put the ball in the basket from anywhere. Anderson's 6-foot-10-inch, 240-pound frame and pinpoint precision from the three-point line make him a matchup nightmare for opponents. And the addition of free agent Omer Asik will help free up Davis and Anderson on offense and give the Pelicans a new massive (7-foot, 255-pound) presence on defense. Asik averaged a double-double in his only year as a full-time starter in Houston.
In the backcourt, a trio of players – Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans – averaged double-digit points this past season and have the Pelicans on the path to success. All three are also benefiting from Davis' speed and size as high-flying, fast-break buckets have become the norm in the Smoothie King Center.
But the best is yet to come. NBA history tells us that teams who draft superstars truly flourish in the player’s third season. The Magic (O'Neal), Timberwolves (Garnett), Cavaliers (James), Hornets (Chris Paul), and Thunder (Durant) are all examples of teams that drafted a star player, increased their win totals every season, and were playoff, and in some cases title, contenders by year three. 2014-15 is year three with Anthony Davis.
The combination of an active front office, young collection of talent and ownership's commitment to providing the resources needed to win proves this team will not be landing any time soon.
"Both guys are combo guards that can defend multiple positions, and even have the strength and craftiness to slow down big men when they have to rotate. Holiday and Evans are the perfect guards for Monty's system." - Michael McNamara, Bourbon Street Shots Editor on Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans