Feb 9, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis out with a sprained shoulder talks with guard Tyreke Evans (1) during the third quarter of a game against the Utah Jazz at the Smoothie King Center. The Jazz defeated the Pelicans 100-96. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
(Reuters) – New Orleans Pelicans rising star Anthony Davis is disappointed at missing out on a starting assignment in Sunday’s NBA All-Star game because of a shoulder injury but the mature 21-year-old is looking at the big picture.
With New Orleans 1-1/2 games back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, Davis understands that his health trumps playing in the annual exhibition.
“My shoulder wasn’t ready two games ago, not sure if it’s going to be ready by Sunday’s All-Star Game,” the 6-foot-10 forward told Reuters on Thursday. “I don’t want to risk it, especially with my team having a great chance of getting to the playoffs.”
Davis, promoting American Express PIVOT (www.AMEXAllStar.com), which offers fans a unique look at players’ signature moves, will be replaced on the All-Star roster by Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki but will cheer the team on at Madison Square Garden.
Davis has made great strides since joining New Orleans as the top pick of the 2012 NBA Draft.
The vaunted defensive skills he brought from the University of Kentucky were on immediate display as a rookie, but “The Brow,” as he is known because of his unibrow, has blossomed into an offensive force.
After averaging 13.5 points his rookie campaign, Davis improved by seven points a game last season and currently carries a 24.5 average to go with 10.3 rebounds and a league-leading 2.7 blocks per game.
“I didn’t want to be a one-sided player. I kind of took that personal, took that to heart,” Davis said. “I tried to expand my game, going to the block, learning post moves, executing post moves in the game, shooting the jump shot.”
Davis is being hailed as the NBA’s next great superstar, though the soft-spoken big man stresses he is still developing.
“This is only my third year. I just keep working, keep playing hard, keep grinding and the sky is the limit for me,” he said.
“A lot of people have me in the top five, top three, but for me it’s all about learning. I don’t feel like I’m right there right now because I have a lot to learn.”
Davis hopes to hasten his learning curve this season.
“I haven’t made the playoffs yet, haven’t even been close until this year,” he said. “This is where we can make our push and get better and experience a lot of things this season.”
(Editing by Frank Pingue)