Pelicans coach Monty Williams’ phone call to second-year power forward Anthony Davis was vastly different this time.
Williams, who had called Davis on Jan. 30 to inform him he wasn’t selected as a Western Conference reserve for the All-Star Game, contacted him Friday with the news that he had been added to the team by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as a replacement for injured Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.
The All-Star Game is Feb. 16 at the Smoothie King Center.
“I couldn’t tell you how happy I was to tell him the news after having to tell him the first time he didn’t make it,” Williams said. “He thought I was joking. ‘He said, ‘Not a game, Coach?’ I said, ‘No, not a game. You made it.’ ”
Davis said when he was told he was speechless, even though there had been much speculation he would be added to the team based on his performance and that the game is in New Orleans. Entering Friday night’s game against visiting Minnesota, Davis was averaging 20.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and an NBA-leading 3.3 blocked shots; he’s one of four players averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Davis, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft out of Kentucky, has continued to emerge after a fine rookie season.
“Especially in my second year, seeing me developing and rising in the league, All-Star kind of makes that statement true,” he said. “It’s my second year. I just feel blessed and excited to play. Can’t wait for the game. I’m glad they chose me to represent New Orleans and the Pelicans.”
After he wasn’t picked in fan voting, then was overlooked by the conference coaches, Davis said he didn’t dwell on whether Silver would pick him. There were games to be played, he said. The Pelicans had won five of seven since the fan voting ended, with Davis leading the way.
Dating to two games before the results were made public, Davis had seven consecutive games with at least four blocks until Wednesday’s game against Atlanta. That bettered the franchise record set by Alonzo Mourning of four games in a row.
Davis also has three games of at least eight blocked shots. The rest of the NBA has three such games combined.
Williams said Davis being named an All-Star is testament to his hard work but mostly his God-given ability.
“A lot of guys work hard, but they still can’t get it done on the floor,” Williams said. “And I think the last three weeks have been him trying to seal the deal, sort to speak.”
The All-Star selection comes after Davis was one of 28 players named to USA Basketball’s 2014-16 team roster pool Jan. 23 for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. Before his rookie NBA season, Davis was a member of the United States’ 2012 Olympic team that won the gold medal.
Davis was chosen last week to participate in next Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge. Asked whether he would still participate now that he’s an All-Star, Davis said, “Yeah.”
He joins Portland point guard Damian Lillard, last season’s Rookie of the Year, as second-year All-Stars who are also in the Rising Stars game.
Davis is the franchise’s 10th player selected to the All-Star team and the 19th selection overall.
Bryant, who was selected for the 16th time in his 18 seasons, had played in just six games after having offseason knee surgery, then suffered a fracture in his left knee Dec. 17. He is expected to miss two more weeks before being re-evaluated.
Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman echoed what coaches have said much of the season about Davis.
“He’s played well all year long,” said Adelman, a former player with the New Orleans Jazz. “I think he certainly deserves it. ...
“I had a feeling he would be the one they would chose — and rightfully so, getting a representative from New Orleans in the game. He’s certainly worthy of it.”