Anthony Davis is part Duncan, part Garnett
Anthony Davis drew raves in the preseason with his scoring, rebounding and shot blocking. But he did have one supposed shortcoming.
His rookie chores.
"We tried to get him to pick up Chipotle about eight times but the lines apparently were too long," forward Ryan Anderson, Davis' teammate on the New Orleans Hornets, said with a laugh. "At last that's what he said. Subway was (Davis') default."
OK, so the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft is not a huge fan of standing in line. But don't think for a minute Davis is any kind of prima donna.
The 6-foot-10 Davis brings a Tim Duncan-like persona to the NBA. The humble big man goes about his business without showmanship or trash talking. He's as content with a bank shot or a layup as some would be throwing down a monster dunk.
"That's who he is. He's not one of those guys who came up with all that stardom," said Hornets coach Monty Williams. "He just kind of got into this in the last couple of years."
Davis wasn't an early-age AAU star who had fans and recruiters falling all over him. When Miami star LeBron James saw Davis for the first time, the Chicago native was a 6-5 10th grader and wasn't dominating. That didn't happen until he hit a growth spurt soon after.
"I just don't want to take anything for granted," said Davis, 19. "Nothing came the easy way for me. So I don't want to get into that stage where I talk (trash) to everybody and thinking that I'm the man. And then guys come at me every night and, ‘You're not the man.' I don't want to get caught up in everything, so I stay level-headed."
Here's the ironic thing. The way Davis plays, you'd think a guy like San Antonio's Duncan, whom he faces Wednesday in his NBA regular-season debut, was the primary player he grew up following.
Nope. The player actually was Boston big man Kevin Garnett, one of the NBA's most notorious trash talkers.
"It's funny because the one that I always tried to look after is K.G., but he talks all the time," Davis said. "People always say, ‘You don't talk trash but he does.' It's just the way that he's mentally into games is what really catches my eye."
During the preseason Davis put up some Garnett-like stats. He averaged 14.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.57 blocks in a modest 32.4 points per night, including an impressive 24 points and 11 rebounds in Friday's preseason finale at Miami.
Or one could say he had some Chris Bosh-like stats. That's the player Heat guard Dwyane Wade said Davis most resembles.
"From the standpoint of the talent that he has and being able to take you out (from the paint), being able to put the ball on the floor, being smooth," Wade said. "He's a shot blocker, he's a very good rebounder. Probably, if anybody, a young Chris Bosh."
Bosh, who is now 28 and with Miami after having made an immediate impact when he entered the NBA with Toronto in 2003-04, said he'll let others decide whether Davis is Bosh-like. Davis' temperament certainly does match the one the mild-mannered Bosh has.
Meanwhile, while Davis remains on an even keel, the fans in New Orleans have gotten quite excited. They didn't have much to cheer about last season after Chris Paul was traded before the start of the campaign and the Hornets were owned by the league.
But the Hornets, after stumbling to a 21-45 record, got stability when New Orleans Saints owner added the team to his stable. And they won the draft lottery to earn Davis, coming off an NCAA title and being named national player of the year as a freshman at Kentucky.
"The city is excited and all of us are excited," said guard Grevis Vasquez, in his second year with the Hornets. "He brings a lot of excitement and a lot of energy and juice, and that's something that we needed. We needed a change, and now with him it's definitely going to help us to be a better team in the long run."
With another intriguing rookie on hand in guard Austin Rivers, son of Boston coach Doc Rivers, there's plenty of optimism in New Orleans. But it's going to take time with this young team, which has only two players who have played more than four NBA seasons.
"We'll manage it the right way," Williams said about exercising some patience with Davis. "We're not going to just throw him to the wolves. But, at the same time, we're not going to hold back. He's a good player, so we'll see as this season progresses how much he can handle."
Williams said Davis gets tired after eight- or nine-minute stints so he'll sometimes use him in shorter bursts. He'll play both power forward and center, with Williams saying he doesn't want to put Davis in a box as far as his position.
When Davis arrived for training camp, he was coming off both an NCAA title and having won an Olympic gold medal. The last player to have done that in the same year was Duke alum Christian Laettner in 1992.
As the only player on Team USA with no NBA experience, Davis didn't play a lot in London. But he showed enough to really impress Olympic star James.
"He's going to be a great player in our league," James said. "I think he learned a lot from us as vets on that team. He's a sponge. He just tried to soak up as much as he could. When he was able to get a little bit of time, he went out and showcased what he was able to do. So he's going to be really good and New Orleans should be excited about him."
James said Davis mostly kept his mouth shut during the Olympic run and listened to what the veterans said. After all, he was there to learn.
"It was a great experience," Davis said. "(Team USA players) taught me just how to be a professional and how to go about my business."
Now, the veterans on the Hornets have some business for Davis and the team's three other rookies. They take turns fetching food for the team and making sure guard Roger Mason, the oldest New Orleans player at 32, gets his daily newspaper.
"It's part of the rookie job," said Davis, not complaining about a No. 1 pick having to do chores. "You can't do anything about it."
Well, Davis has done something about it when the lines are too long at Chipotle. He's headed to Subway.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter@christomasson