NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Hornets center Anthony Davis interrupted a weightlifting session Monday to review his rookie season with reporters at the team's practice facility.
Sidelined for the final three games by a knee injury — the latest in a series of minor setbacks during an otherwise successful debut — Davis knows where he needs to improve the most.
"It's definitely my biggest focus, to get stronger," the former University of Kentucky star said. "The NBA wears down your body a lot. You definitely have to take care of your body. That's a big part of the league, the wear and tear of 82 games."
When he was on the court, Davis showed a well-rounded game befitting the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft. He averaged 13.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 1.2 steals and 1.0 assists, becoming the fifth player in NBA history to reach those marks in all five categories. The others were Chris Webber, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon.
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Still, Davis likely won't win the rookie-of-the-year award; Portland's Damian Lillard is the overwhelming favorite.
After leading Kentucky to the NCAA championship in 2012, New Orleans had high expectations of him. If anything, he was more effective offensively than advertised, showing a nice midrange shot to go along with the athletic ability and defensive skills that made him the Associated Press Player of the Year in his one season with the Wildcats.
"I think I did pretty well," Davis said of his rookie performance. "I look forward to the offseason and getting better and moving in the right direction. I want to be as healthy as possible and hopefully play in all 82 games."
He will have missed 18 when the Hornets finish their season at Dallas on Wednesday. The last three times he was sidelined have been more precautionary than anything else. Davis said the left knee he sprained against Sacramento on April 10 was fine, but the injuries have been the only knock on his game.
The Hornets knew Davis (6-feet-10, 220 pounds) needed to bulk up when they drafted him. He was not yet physical enough to survive the pounding inside in the NBA, but he adapted well in his first season.
Davis' .516 shooting percentage was the second best among players in the Hornets' rotation behind center Robin Lopez, who took almost all of his shots from point-blank range.
"He's had a good rookie season," Hornets guard Eric Gordon said. "There's nothing to worry about because he's very talented. He has a lot of upside, more than a lot of guys in this league. He's definitely going to have a big-time career for sure."
Davis, who also plays forward, led New Orleans in scoring 10 times and in rebounding 20 times, getting a season-high 28 points against Milwaukee in November and grabbing a personal-best 18 rebounds against Memphis in March. He also tipped in a missed shot by Gordon with 0.6 seconds left to give New Orleans an 87-86 win over Boston on March 18.
The Hornets (27-54) have not won often. They have the second-worst record in the Western Conference entering the finale at Dallas, and coach Monty Williams said recently that record would be better if he had played Davis more.
The plan, though, was to protect his body and build for the future. His average of 28.8 minutes was the second lowest among Hornets' starters and backup power forward Ryan Anderson frequently was on the floor in the fourth quarter.
Davis said he understood Williams' motivation.
"Coach wants nothing but to help the whole team out," he said. "I know he's going to steer me in the right direction and never is going to steer me wrong. We are all looking at the big picture here. What he has in mind for me right now I'm happy with."
Next year, with what should be a bigger, stronger frame, Davis said he expects to make a larger impact on the Hornets' record.
"I want to continue to do the same thing I do now and more — run the floor, rebound and play around the basket," he said. "If I continue to do that and add a little of what coach (Williams) wants me to add, then we can be pretty good."