At the beginning of the year, New Orleans Hornets' forward Anthony Davis was the odds-on favorite to win the NBA's Rookie of the Year Award. But with other first-year players such as Portland's Damian Lillard and Charlotte's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist having stellar seasons, is it fair to call Davis the league's most disappointing rookie to this point?
In a word...no.
While Davis hasn't been the dominant force that some thought he would be from Day 1, he is putting up pretty decent numbers for a 19-year-old, averaging 13.6 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game, 1.9 blocks per game. The indelible black mark on Davis' ROY candidacy comes solely from the injuries that have kept him off of the court: The former Kentucky star has already dealt with a concussion and a series of ankle issues so far in his freshman season.
That missed time has allowed Lillard to distance himself for the rest of the 2012 draft class and it would be a monumental upset if anyone other than Portland Trail Blazers point guard didn't bring home the ROY hardware. The 22-year-old Lillard has already won Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors twice and is averaging 18.2 points, 6.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds on the season.
Even with Davis' slow start, he still has three months remaining to make a strong case by the year-end Rookie of the Year Award. However, that may become increasingly more difficult if the 6'10 forward can't make it onto the court. A healthy Davis logged just 12 minutes against the Dallas Mavericks on January 5, and Jennifer Hale of Fox Sports New Orleans reports that Davis may have to get used to limited minutes going forward:
While one can question the Hornets' rotation patterns, it's clear that head coach Monty Williams is desperately trying to find something to spark his team after an 8-25 start. It's also clear that any playing time that Davis doesn't receive for the rest of the season has little to do with his on-court performance.
In fact, Davis isn't even the most disappointing young player on his own team. Fellow rookie Austin Rivers was selected with the 10th overall pick out in June's entry draft, and has struggled to make the transition to the NBA. All of the pre-draft notions working against him have since been dispelled (poor shooter, inability to create his own shot at the pro level, needs to get stronger), and Rivers is shooting an abysmal 34 percent from the field.
The expectations piled upon Davis have skewed the way that many have judged him to this point. Quite frankly, his scoring average is pretty good when you consider that he takes fewer shots per game than teammate Greivis Vasquez. According to SynergySports, Davis ranks a very respectable 69th in the NBA in terms of points per possession with 0.98
Furthermore, no first-year player averages more rebounds and blocked shots than Davis. Once the former-Wildcat fills out his frame and figures out how to effectively make us of his 7'4" wingspan, he has the potential to be an All-NBA defender.
To consider Davis a disappointment is not just an overstatement, but is flat-out wrong. Perhaps those who expected a 20 and 10 season are nonplussed by the Hornets' rookie, but those same peoplemay be in for a shock when Davis makes the All-Rookie team this May.