Friday, March 21, 2014
Q&A: Anthony Davis on life in the NBA
By Kevin Arnovitz
The Pelicans' rising superstar, Anthony Davis, has it all ... well, except for a best friend and a Snuggie.
Have you been watching Anthony Davis? He’s crushing it. He ranks fourth in the league in Player Efficiency Rating, and this is a stat that doesn’t even account for the defensive side of the ball where The Brow has emerged as the top shot-blocker in the league.
Davis is a somewhat reticent 21-year-old who doesn’t see himself as the rah-rah guy in the huddle. He says the physicality of the NBA is the biggest different between the college and pro games -- and is carb-loading to bulk up. We reached him in Atlanta, where the Pelicans face off against the Hawks on Friday night.
First off, how are you feeling? How’s that upper respiratory thing? Sounds nasty.
Davis: I feel good. It was a quick thing. I’m ready to get back out there.
Are you a power forward? Does it matter?
I’m a basketball player, but yeah, if you want to put a position on there, I’m a power forward.
What happens when Ryan Anderson is out there? Do you become a 5 on the whiteboard? And is that something you’re cool with?
I’m cool with it. We do different things, but it doesn’t matter what we’re called. It opens up the court and that’s good. Like I said, I’m a basketball player, and I’m still going to guard the rim whoever is out there. It doesn’t matter if I’m a power forward or a center. My job doesn’t change.
I know smart people who believe you’re the third-best player in the league already, behind LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Can you even allow yourself to think like that?
Nah, you can’t think about that. Maybe down the road, but right now I just have to get better. It’s about winning, doing the job, helping my team get better.
What’s it like to guard LeBron? How do you approach that?
Keep your hands up. He’s going to be aggressive, but you have to be aggressive as a defender. It’s still defense, so that doesn’t change at all. But he can hurt you in a lot of different ways. You have to go out there and do your job -- nothing changes defensively.
What’s your best skill?
Blocking shots. Cleaning up the glass, whatever it is. Changing shots, getting to the ball. Those are probably my best skills right now.
What’s the hardest thing to pick up about the pro game when you come into the league?
The pace, and how physical it is. When you come in, the guys you’re playing against have been in the league for like 16 years! I thought it was going to be a lot easier than what it is. You have to try to get stronger right away. You have to hold your own when you’re in the post. You have to get better right away.
A lot of guys, when you ask this question say, the defensive schemes.
I don’t really think so. Defense doesn’t change. Offensively, it changes a lot. The floor opens up a lot. One-on-one you have guys who can do so much more, who can make tough shots. As far as schemes, I don’t think that’s a big thing, at least not for me.
Whose brain do you like to pick about basketball?
My coach -- Coach Monty [Williams]. He knows so much. Coach [Gregg Popovich] was his mentor and did a lot for him. He’s the best coach ever. I definitely pick [Willams’] brain about a lot of things. He provides me with great feedback, and I want to be better. I want to be an elite player someday.
Are you going to be the guy who’s vocal in the huddle, who does the rah-rah thing?
I’m not quiet, but I’m not that guy. Anthony Morrow is the perfect rah-rah guy. He gets everybody up. I’m more talk to the guys before the game, get everyone ready, but as far as keeping everyone amped up for 48 minutes, I wouldn’t say that’s me.
What’s the most challenging thing about managing millions of dollars as a young player?
I don’t really spend money like that at all. You’ve got to know to save. It’s easier if you’ve got the right people to help, financial people that you trust. I think that’s the thing -- have good people around you.
I imagine that everyone comes out of the woodwork to ask you for stuff.
All the time. For crazy things. You definitely have to learn to start saying no. You’re going to lose a lot of friends. You just have to live with it. And they keep coming back. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with helping people. They usually go to my mom or my dad. Nobody really asks me for anything. They might talk to me about something and I tell them to talk to my parents.
Should the NBA have an age limit for rookies?
If a guy is ready to come into the league, if they think they can play, by all means they should. Age shouldn’t matter. Kobe came in at 18 and became one of the best players. I don’t think age really matters at all.
How do you take care of your body? What do you eat -- or what do you not eat?
I don’t eat seafood, but I eat everything else really. I’m trying to put on weight, so I eat a lot of pasta. A lot of vegetables. And anything to help put on weight.
Who’s your best friend in the league?
I don’t have a best friend.
Are there guys in the league you’re tight with?
I’m not really tight with anybody. I mean, the guys on the team, but I’ve only been in the league for a couple of years. Maybe the guys from Kentucky, but that’s really it.
Did I read somewhere that you used to fly with a Snuggie?