Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Anthony Davis' trophy case must be bursting at the seams after the year he had in 2012.
In his only season of college hoops, the 19-year-old was the recipient of five separate individual awards including the Driesell award, the Naismith trophy, the Robertson trophy, the Rupp trophy and the Wooden award. And that list doesn't even include the NCAA National Championship he won or the Olympic gold medal he acquired in London.
Not that Davis needed another honor, but he probably won't need to make space in his trophy room for a Rookie of the Year award this season. That honor will likely go to Portland's Damian Lillard.
For those of you who aren't familiar with Lillard, the point guard out of Weber State has produced 18.3 ppg (leads all rookies) and 6.6 apg (also leads all rookies) this season while leading the Trail Blazers in minutes (38.5 mpg).
Meanwhile, Davis has struggled to stay healthy, missing 13 of the New Orleans Hornets' first 41 games with ankle injuries and a concussion.
Even when Davis has been on the court, his numbers haven't been quite as eye- popping as some would have hoped. Through 28 games, Davis is averaging 13.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg and 1.9 bpg in 29.1 minutes per contest.
Though Davis hasn't been the league's best rookie this season, he has been one of the best. But in the increasingly demanding world of fantasy basketball, where patience has become optional and slow starts are viewed as unacceptable, being considered "one of" the best isn't always good enough.
Despite his laundry list of accomplishments at Kentucky, many have soured on Davis, even going as far as to call the No. 1 overall pick in last June's NBA draft a "bust."
I think part of the problem is that we've been spoiled by some of the incredible No. 1 picks the league has churned out over the past few seasons. Three of the last four No. 1s were Rookies of the Year (Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose). That's only happened two other times in the history of the league: 1989-94 when five straight No. 1 picks won the award and then again in 1996-2000 when three out of four No. 1s received the honor.
No. 1 picks haven't always been sure things, especially not right off the bat. Griffin (22.5 ppg, 12.1 rpg in his rookie year), Irving (18.5 ppg, 5.4 apg) and Rose (16.8 ppg, 6.3 apg) were exceptions to the rule. None of the No. 1 picks from 2004 to 2007 came anywhere near that level of production as rookies. Take a look:
Greg Oden (2007): 8.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg
Andrea Bargnani (2006): 11.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Andrew Bogut (2005): 9.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg
Dwight Howard (2004): 12.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg
Yes, even Dwight Howard struggled as a rookie. And he turned out just fine. So did Yao Ming, who produced a stat line nearly identical to Davis during his rookie season in 2002-03 (13.5 ppg 8.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg).
I don't think Davis has exceded expectations this season but he hasn't underperformed either. Check out our site's preseason projections for Davis: 13.2 ppg, 8.8 bpg, 2.6 bpg.
How spot on is that? ESPN, on the other hand, may have actually underestimated Davis' scoring prowess. They predicted he'd only average 9.8 ppg in his rookie season.
For those of us who were raised on Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, it seems preposterous to assign the superstar label to a player whose averaging only 13.2 ppg. But the truth is, Davis isn't about scoring.
Even at Kentucky, Davis only averaged 14.2 ppg. That's the lowest scoring average by a No. 1 pick in his final year of college since the draft was revamped in 1966. Patrick Ewing was the second-lowest scorer among No. 1 picks: he averaged just 14.6 ppg during his final season at Georgetown back in 1984-85.
Fantasy owners who were expecting Davis to be a 20 ppg scorer out of the gate must not have read his scouting report. Davis was never hyped as a scorer. The Hornets drafted him No. 1 with the understanding that they were getting a once in a generation shot blocker who could average double-digit rebounds.
If we evaluate Davis on that criteria alone, he's actually been terrific this season. He leads all rookies in rebounds per game (7.9) and his shot-blocking (1.89 bpg, 10th-best in the NBA) has been magnificent. The fact that he's fourth in rookie scoring (13.2) is just a bonus.
If it weren't for Ryan Anderson, Davis' scoring average might actually be closer to 15 or 16 ppg. Technically Anderson (16.9 ppg) is Davis' backup at power forward but he's shot so well from three-point distance (league leading 125 three-pointers) that coach Monty Williams has actually given Anderson (31.8 mpg) slightly more playing time than Davis (29.1 mpg) this season.
It might not happen this year but soon Davis' day will come. Give "The Brow" a break.