METAIRIE, La. — Anthony Davis sat in a half moon of sports reporters and TV cameras Thursday, the Hornets backdrop behind him and his Olympic medal draped around his neck.
And still he doesn’t believe he’s a professional basketball player, keying in instead on the fact that he has yet to play in an NBA game.
“Nah. I just feel like a guy who’s just playing basketball right now,” Davis said. “Until I play an NBA game, then I can consider myself an NBA player.”
Hornets brass unwrapped Davis for the first time since the Olympics at the Saints headquarters Thursday, a building the organization is slowly transitioning to after Tom Benson purchased the basketball franchise this spring.
Davis can say what he wants, but there’s little doubt that he’s no longer amongst the college ranks. He spent the summer playing with, learning from and watching Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant among other players while with the U.S. National team.
He played in the Olympics against the world’s best international players, a step up from Kentucky, where he helped guide the Wildcats to the 2011-12 national title in New Orleans.
His summer vacation helped him improve before ever setting foot in a regular season practice with Monty Williams and the Hornets. He’s not standing pat, however, on working on his game.
“I think my game developed more than what I expected just by playing the Olympics and being around them guys,” Davis said. “But there’s still a lot to learn and a lot more to do so I’ve got to continue working.”
Expectations for the 6-foot-11 frontcourt player are high in spite of not having played an NBA game. He’s not worried about that, however, citing Williams’ ability to keep the pressure away from young players.
“I think Coach Williams does a great job of taking that pressure off of me and putting it on the team and organization,” Davis said. “We’re all young guys. I’m 19 years old going into a grown man’s league.
With a 19-year-old, a 20-year-old (Austin Rivers), a 21-year-old (Xavier Henry), a 22-year-old (Al-farouq Aminu) and a 23-year-old in Eric Gordon, the Hornets are, indeed, young. Not that that bothers Davis.
“We’re very young,” he said. “Some people call us an AAU team. I like that. Run and gun. Score 100 every game.”
Davis has spent time working with his Hornets teammates throughout the summer, be it briefly after the draft or after the Olympics when the team had informal workouts in San Antonio with the Spurs.
The Hornets helped Davis out a bit when they traded for Robin Lopez, a true center, meaning the youngster won’t have to play solely in the middle.
Still, he’ll have to grow into the NBA game, which he called physically demanding. He said he put on weight since leaving Kentucky, though he didn’t know how much.
His next task is finding out from Williams what the head coach is looking for in him.
He already knows whatever it is, Williams will be demanding. Former Hornets point guard Chris Paul told him that this summer.
“Told me he was definitely going to coach me a lot,” Davis said. “Chris said he hit a point where Monty was just on him, just on him, just because he knew was going to be something special, if he wasn’t already special at that time. He said he was going to be on you a lot because he wants you to succeed and he likes helping young guys out.”