Davis does not need the pressure
The savior was in town, but to hear Hornets general manager Dell Demps, you wouldn’t know it.
Surrounded by a throng of reporters at the team’s practice facility on Tuesday, Demps was practically being begged to heap praise on Anthony Davis, his soon-to-be No. 1 NBA draft pick who visited New Orleans this week.
Praising Davis is an easy thing to do. The 6-foot-10 forward is a graceful and freakish athlete who blocks shots like he has four arms and seems like he could cover the length of the court in about two steps.
He won a national title and player of the year honors in just one season at Kentucky, making him an obvious choice for the top pick and a player expected to alter the future of the franchise lucky enough to snag him.
So what did Demps, the lottery winner about to buy his new toy, have to say about Davis?
“There’s not too much to say, really,” Demps said.
The questions still came. Can Davis be an elite player? What do you think of his mentality? How much of an impact can he be on defense? What did you see when you scouted him?
He could have compared Davis to Bill Russell or proclaimed something like, “I’ll be shocked if Anthony doesn’t have an MVP and a title within five years.”
There was a slew of chances to bow to The Brow, but other than calling him an “ultimate team player,” Demps spoke about Davis with a level of excitement you’d reserve for a used toaster.
He gave no assessment of Davis’ skills and made no predictions, and that was the perfect move.
“I really don’t want to get into putting that type of pressure on him right now,” Demps said.
“We want him to just come in here and get ingrained in our system, get an opportunity to work with our coach and our players. We really want him to enjoy the process.”
Demps repeated a version of that answer over and over.
It’s a maddening dance for reporters — especially after many of the 40-plus media members showed up expecting to see Davis go through an on-court workout. He didn’t, instead just taking a tour of the facilities, seeing the city and meeting his future employers.
That left reporters hungry for a story, and Demps knew that any gushing remarks would have been splashed across headlines and added to the already enormous pressure that comes with being a top pick.
Of the last four forwards and centers taken No. 1, only one — Blake Griffin — has been named an All-Star. The three before that — Dwight Howard, LeBron James and Yao Ming — represent the level of play expected of Davis.
The 19-year-old is just getting a taste of that pressure now, and he doesn’t need the Hornets pouring any fuel on the fire.
Of course, they think Davis is a future star, but the only time they need to show it is by picking him first on Thursday, handing him a jersey and putting him on the court.