LAS VEGAS — Anthony Davis has earned something that none of the other 27 players at the USA Basketball Men’s National Team minicamp can claim.
Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans’ 6-10, 220-pound forward/center is the only player at this four-day minicamp, which started Monday and will finish Thursday, who played on the gold medal-winning 2012 U.S. Olympic Team.
One year later, the 20-year-old Davis returns, along with legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, among others, in pursuit of a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics.
For Davis, the Pelicans’ 2012 No. 1 draft pick was glad to see that he wasn’t the lone Pelican at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center for the minicamp and Thursday’s USA Basketball Showcase. Teammates Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday are here, as is coach Monty Williams. Davis said that experience will help all the Pelicans, as it did for him while he was playing on the same team with such NBA stars as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.
“It was great,” Davis said. “I didn’t play much. When I was sitting there watching, I was taking in a lot of detail and a lot on how the guys work; how they felt on the floor. I brought that back to New Orleans and it’s helped me a lot, helped the organization a lot. All the stuff that I learned we’re just trying to express to these guys (on the Pelicans and at the minicamp). It’s fun. You want to be on a team like that. It’s very fun and very humbling.
“Team USA is great, a great experience for guys. We’ve got a great connection and great bond. Every young guy wants to play with Team USA; not a lot of guys will be able to make it.”
Anderson is a teammate who has seen how the experience of being on Team USA has helped Davis.
“Because of his confidence in the way he plays, guys listen and just want to be around him,” Ryan Anderson said. “He’s a hard worker, too. You have to gain respect to have the respect from the guys, so he’s gained it. Just watching him play this summer, just watching him play, man, he’s improved so much. He’s improved in his confidence playing, his confidence shooting the ball, being able to do different things.
“He’s just going to get better and better; his body is going to keep developing. He looks great right now. He’s a special guy. It’s fun to be on the same team with him.
“Luckily, we have a team that’s really young. The guys want to listen to somebody who has earned that respect. The reality is we’re all learning. We all want to get better. It’s whether or not the team is going to listen or not.
“And the fact that we have a young group that is going to come in and is going to listen, I think it gives Anthony an opportunity to kind of step up and get out of that mode where he questions what to say or not. He can just go out in the locker room and say something because he has earned their respect.”
Davis agrees with Anderson about how his gold medal has elevated his status on a young Team USA, whose players’ ages range from 19 to 25.
“I think it’s something special,” Davis said. “You see a lot of guys (who) have a gold medal; ‘I played on the Olympic team, I represented the USA.’ A lot of guys want to represent the USA, and this is a big deal for guys. I know it’s a big deal for me. I’m pretty sure the guys feel the same way.
“You always want to add to your résumé, and to put the Olympic Team on there is a big plus. Going out and representing your country — only 14, 15 guys can do that. We (the 2012 Olympic team members) did, so it’s a definitely a big plus and a great experience.”