Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — Anthony Davis has already won an NCAA championship in New Orleans.
Now he will try and win an NBA title in the Big Easy, too.
“It’s like karma,” the 6-foot-10 Kentucky freshman told ESPN after New Orleans won the rights to the No. 1 pick in the June 28 NBA Draft. “You know, won a national championship there so that’s always exciting,
“I just can’t wait to get down there if I get drafted No. 1 and do what I have to do to make my team win.”
Davis was named the National Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four in New Orleans after averaging 14.2 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.7 blocks on the season.
New Orleans beat out Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Bobcats for the No. 1 pick. New Orleans entered with the fourth-best chance at No. 1 (13.7 percent) and Charlotte, which had the NBA’s worst record, had the best chance (25 percent).
Charlotte, which former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy accused of “tanking” the season to get the No. 1 pick, will select second, followed by Washington, Cleveland and Sacramento. The Brooklyn Nets got the No. 6 pick but must send it to Portland in the Gerald Wallace deal.
The No. 1 pre-slotted team still hasn’t retained the No. 1 pick since Orlando did it in 2004.
Who Charlotte takes at No. 2 is anybody’s guess, although the Bobcats can choose from among Davis’ Kentucky teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Florida’s Bradley Beal and UConn’s Andre Drummond, among others.
“It’s a huge disappointment [for Charlotte],” ESPN college analyst Jay Bilas told SNY.tv. “You know Davis is going to be a difference-maker. He doesn’t have to take a shot and he’s going to impact the game because he blocks shots and changes jumps shots.”
Said Charlotte GM Rich Cho: “Obviously, everyone wants the No. 1 pick. We know we’re going to get a good player at No. 2. Last time I was with a team that had No. 2, we were able to get Kevin Durant. So, we’ll go from here and hopefully find the right player for us.”
The Hornets were the big winners on the night, landing both the No. 1 pick and the No. 10 selection.
“To be able to get two players in the Top 10 would be good by itself, but to have 1 and 10 is really good,” Bilas said.
“You know that Anthony Davis was the big prize. I don’t know what the gap is between 1 and 2 or anything, but it’s been a long time since there was no discussion. You know it’s going to be him.”
Bilas added: “I really belive that [Davis] is just scratching the surface on the offensive end and he’s going to continue to get better.”
After going 38-2 in his only year at Kentucky, Davis will now head to a team that finished 21-45 last season.
“It’s up to the coaching staff but a losing record doesn’t mean anything,” Davis told ESPN. “It means we can go down, work hard, work with the team and try to rebuild and make a better team than this year.”
New Orleans coach Monty Williams said “everything was surreal” in the Disney/ABC Times Square Studio after Cleveland was chosen at No. 4.
“Once we got to the last three picks, I was just standing here and I was like, ‘This is pretty cool,'” Williams said. “And all I could really think about was I know my wife and my kids are at home praying in front of the TV that everything would go well.”
Still, Williams wouldn’t name Davis by name.
“We haven’t decided anything,” he said. “It’s obvious there’s a consensus No. 1. I’m not sure if I’m even supposed to say names, so I don’t want to get myself in trouble on a night when it’s supposed to be a pretty fun night.”
As for the No. 10 pick, Williams said he and Hornets GM Dell Demps would huddle and take the best player available.
“Somebody may fall that we like,” he said. “Somebody may jump up that we don’t want anybody to really know about. So the best player available for us is going to be a major issue for us because I think at that pick you really gotta go with talent.”
Tom Benson, the owner of the Hornets and the New Orleans Saints, said the city that was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina but rebounded to win a Super Bowl title, could be in for store for still more big times.
“Between the Saints and the Hornets,” he said on ESPN, “wow, no telling what’s going to happen.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.