After a disastrous 2011-2012 season, which included the early season trade of superstar point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers (original Paul trade to the Lakers was rescinded), the New Orleans Hornets limped through the 66-game reduced schedule, finishing last in the Western Conference standings, with a record of 21-45.
Despite possessing a tie for only the NBA’s third worst record, the Hornets managed to land the coveted first overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft, which of course meant being crowned the winner of the “Anthony Davis Sweepstakes.” Fast-forwarding to draft day, New Orleans elected to rebuild its lackluster roster by choosing the 6-11 Davis with its first pick, followed by the drafting of Duke point guard Austin Rivers, in the tenth overall spot (pick acquired from Clippers in Paul transaction).
Davis, the centerpiece of the team’s revitalization efforts, produced perhaps the most dominant freshman season in NCAA history. During his one-year stint at Kentucky, the Chicago native averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.7 blocks and 1.4 steals per game, when leading the Wildcats to a national championship victory, while posting a 38-2 record. Davis’ hard work was rewarded with the presentation of both the National Player of the Year and NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player awards.
Though producing a solid freshman campaign at Duke (15.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.1 APG), Rivers’ stop through Durham (NC) is most remembered for knocking down a three-point field goal, as time expired, giving the Blue Devils a 85-84 victory over archrival North Carolina.
Austin is the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
Ironically, the cornerstones of the Hornets’ future (Davis & Rivers) were the number one and number three rated high school prospects, going back to 2011.
Wednesday, per the above iFolloSports.com original video clip, the pair of first year players were chronicled signing autographs for LA hoops fans, outside the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live (located in downtown Los Angeles, one block north of Staples Center). This scene took place 2.5 hours prior to that evening’s game with the Clippers.
Watch as Rivers makes his way to the charter bus, a few seconds prior to the autograph seekers spotting of Davis. At 21 seconds, a couple of younger fans yell out “Unibrow,” upon noticing the big man, as he exited the luxury property.
Even though the 19-year-old rather shrewdly trademarked his now famous eyebrow configuration, there is very little chance that Davis appreciates hearing that word yelled out in his direction. To his credit, the rookie stayed focused on interacting with his many fans, as opposed to acknowledging the nickname he probably is forced to hear on a daily basis.
To date, the Hornets have gotten off to a horrific 5-20 start, due in large measure to Davis missing 11 games this season (left ankle injury). In addition, guard Eric Gordon (acquired from Clippers in Paul trade) has not played one second during the early schedule, as he recovers from right knee issues.
If New Orleans’ core pieces can remain healthy, while at the same time figuring out a way to max out their supreme level of talent, the Crescent City’s basketball franchise may find itself knocking on the postseason’s door, in the not too distant future.