NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis’ season ended three games early with a sprained medial collateral ligament and a bone bruise to his left knee.
But it wasn’t too early for Hornets coach Monty Williams to know that his rookie forward had grown, showing promise for the future.
“You look at his last five games, 18 and 10, something like that – that’s what we wanted,” Williams said. “We wanted to see him get consistently get better from when we first got a hold of him until now. We wanted to see a guy that was more comfortable on the floor, obviously scoring the ball, rebounding the ball, defending.
“Look at his lumps, he got better every month.”
Davis ended his season playing 64 games instead of the full 82 because of various injuries. But with less than a week left in the season, he has done enough to show that he had a positive year.
He’s fourth in the NBA among rookies, averaging 13.5 points per game. His 1.75 blocked shots per game are most among first-year players, as is his 8.2 rebound per game average.
And his efficiency rating – the positive stats subtracted by the negative ones – leads all rookies, as well.
He also led all rookies with 20 double-doubles, which was more than all but 26 players in the NBA.
Most impressive, though, about all of those statistics is that he did it while averaging 28 minutes per game.
“I thought if he played 35-40 minutes a game, he would wear down,” Williams said. “Turns out he played 28 minutes per game, which is where we wanted him to be.”
When asked if that cost the Hornets some wins, Williams said absolutely. But the coach isn’t looking short-term.
“There were times I could have played him more and I know it would have helped us,” Williams said. “As caretaker of the team, I have to make decisions that I think are going to be better for him and us going forward. I knew that going into the season that I was going to have to do that.”
The future was nearly in question Wednesday night, however, when Davis stayed down on the floor after culling a charge from Sacramento’s Marcus Thornton. The Kings’ guard fell hard on Davis’ legs and the rookie appeared seriously injured, lying on the court while writhing in pain.
Williams didn’t know at first just how bad the injury was.
“That happens a lot in the NBA,” Williams said. “You see a guy on the ground and it looked like he got shot. Two plays later he’s running around and dunking the ball. Initially I didn’t know what to think. As I got closer to him and walked on the floor, I realized it was a bit more than I thought.”
Davis won’t need surgery and instead will rest the remaining three games.