The suspense at the NBA draft will take place Wednesday night when the lottery order is unveiled, not on June 28 when NBA commissioner David Stern announces the No. 1 pick.
That’s because whichever team hits it big in New York will win the right to draft 19-year-old Kentucky phenom Anthony Davis, the consensus No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
“No one knows who is the No. 1 pick,” said a humble Davis, who insisted that he could go anywhere from one to 60. “I don’t know if I’m going to be the No. 1 pick. It’s just a rumor. But I’m a step closer to reaching my dream of playing in the NBA.”
The NBA lottery has had a few locks at the top of the draft as recently as John Wall in 2010 (Washington) and Blake Griffin in 2009 (Los Angeles Clippers). But the 2012 draft is much more akin to 2003 and 2002, when the announcement of the top pick going to Cleveland and Houston meant LeBron James and Yao Mingknew then they would be going to those respective teams.
Davis was the consensus national player of the year in leading the Wildcats to a national title over Kansas last month in New Orleans. He said he mirrors his game after Boston’s Kevin Garnettoffensively — “he can shoot mid-range and still score in the post” — and defensively after Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka — he “can alter shots and he’s now the best shot blocker in the league.”
Davis’ father, Anthony Sr., clearly understands his son will be the No. 1 pick and is anticipating scouting the team that will land the top selection.
“We’ve been on edge,” Davis Sr. said. “All the guessing will be done (Wednesday) and we’ll know where he’ll go. He’s been focusing on the workout and basketball but we’ll find out which way the (ping pong) balls will drop (Wednesday).”
Davis isn’t making his favorites public. But in a quick word association to see what he thought about the possible destinations Wednesday, a few notable names came to mind.
When asked about Charlotte, which has the highest percentage chance of winning the lottery at 25, Davis said the first thing he thinks about is owner Michael Jordan. Washington, which has a 19.9 percent chance, is the home of Wall, which was the first name he thought of in potentially going to the Wizards. Cleveland has the third highest percentage at 13.8 percent and yet Davis said he thinks about LeBron James, saying: “I know this is kind of weird, sorry Cleveland fans.” New Orleans, which has the fourth highest chance of landing the No. 1 pick at 13.7 percent, has a special meaning to him since that’s the site of Kentucky’s national championship.
Davis’ workout Wednesday was with former Kentucky manager Will Martin, who said he will live with Davis and continue to be his private workout trainer after the two said they struck a bond from his first visit to Lexington last summer. Prior to Martin, Davis had been working out with Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne.
The workout was one-on-none with Davis going through some agility drills, Martin pushing back when Davis was posting up and some two-handed dribbling exercises. Davis did a lot of perimeter shooting, especially from the 3-point line.
A number of NBA officials said Davis has to continue to gain strength, especially in preparation for the U.S. Olympic training camp on July 5. Davis was added to the roster and has a chance, especially with the back injury to Dwight Howard, to make the squad.
“I’m trying to make sure that I’m in great shape, getting in a good lift and putting up a lot of shots,” said Davis. “My goal is to be ready to play with these guys (on the Olympic team).”
Davis said when he was told of his invitation to the final pool of players that the dozen Olympians who will be chosen from it gave him “chills.” Davis is the only collegian in the pool.
“I’ve got to be in great shape if I’m going to make the team,” Davis said after working out at Kentucky’s Craft Center on campus.
U.S. Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke told ESPN.com two weeks ago that Davis wasn’t trying out for the team July 5-7 but is simply one of the players who has a shot to be selected.
Davis has taken the unique approach so far of going through the early part of the draft process without an agent. His father has solicited the help of some friends in Lexington to help organize some of Davis’ requests.
The traditional route for players is to sign with an agent prior to the lottery and work out with the collection of the agents’ players in the draft at one location before the agent sets up team workouts, marketing and sneaker deals.
Instead, the family is taking a methodical approach having talked to just a handful of agents so far but nothing formal. Davis Sr. said the family is making tough choices without a formal agent agreement to help offset the cost of lodging and flights prior to landing any deals or signing with a team over the summer.
Davis said that he likes the one-on-zero workouts right now because he said it will help him with conditioning.
“I don’t take a break,” Davis said. “I’m getting everything out of the workout.”
Davis Sr. didn’t fret the unorthodox nature of going solo without an agent to this point.
“It’s a process and we want to make sure we’re making the correct decision for Anthony,” said Davis Sr. “It’s a hard process and we want to make sure it’s done right. We’re going to interview some agents (Wednesday). It’s not like when he was getting recruited. We have to make sure we make the right pick, pick the right agent so he can take care of Anthony and market deals and stuff like that.”
Davis was supposed to be at Nike Tuesday in Oregon but the meeting was moved and is being rescheduled.
“We don’t want to rush,” Davis said.
Davis was 6-3 as a high school freshman but by the time he entered Kentucky he was 6-10.
The whirlwind year for him continues to spin from Perspectives Charter School in Chicago to signing with Kentucky to becoming a dominant player with the Wildcats in leading them in scoring (14.2), rebounds (10.4) and blocks (4.7 for a total of 186).
He was the consensus player of the year, won a national title, met President Barack Obama at the White House earlier this month and with little fanfare of an agent or any posse he will find out Wednesday night who gets the right to select him No. 1.
“All of this has been a great experience,” Davis said. “I just know I’m a step closer to reaching my dream of playing in the NBA.”
- Senior college basketball writer for ESPN.com
- 22 years covering college basketball, including on TV
- Former president of U.S. Basketball Writers Association
COVID-19 Latest News and Information
- The unfortunate truth of the Rangers and baseball’s 2020 season
- Biggest beneficiaries from the Mavs if the remainder of the 2019-2020 NBA season is lost
- Stars public address announcer uses voice to raise money amid COVID-19 outbreak
- Working from Home Like a Pro
- FC Dallas Patiently Waiting to Return to Normal Activities
- Cowboys Mailbag: DeMarcus Lawrence still an elite pass rusher?
- Most and least valuable 2020 Dallas Stars contracts
- Rangers’ Good Guy Shin-Soo Choo provides an act of generosity to Rangers’ minor leaguers
- DSF Roundup: Writers make their argument for prime Romo or Aikman
- Corey: My five favorite Dallas Cowboys