CHICAGO – The last meaningful game Anthony Davis played in or near his hometown was a disappointment: a 60-53 loss to top-ranked King, Davis’ Perspectives Charter school falling in the Illinois’ Class 3A regional in March 2011. He never got to play back in Chicago last season, when the closest he came in the University of Kentucky’s 38-2 season was a stop in Bloomington, Ind.
And now what would have been Davis’ NBA debut in the Windy City, as the No. 1 pick in the Draft in June and the prognosticators’ heavy favorite for 2012-13 Rookie of the Year, has gotten whacked, too.
Not unlike the way the New Orleans Hornets’ young big man himself got whacked Friday night. Davis suffered what doctors have termed a mild concussion when rookie teammate Austin Rivers‘ elbow caught Davis on the right side of his head in the second quarter of the Hornets’ home game against Utah.
Initial reports indicated that Davis had difficulty answering some of the questions put to him – “Where are you?” – soon after he exited with 4:51 left in the first half. He did not travel with the club for tonight’s game against the Bulls at United Center – Ryan Anderson is expected to start at center in Davis’ absence – instead staying behind for further testing.
Now the rookie will be subject to the NBA’s concussions policy, in its second season as a precaution against serious head injuries.
When he is free of symptoms, the 6-foot-10 teenager (he’s still just 19) will be checked out in an series of physical tests that include a stationary bicycle and treadmill work. Then he will need to be cleared by an NBA-sanctioned neurologist.
The process could take a while, though the Hornets’ schedule has some slack. After the Chicago visit, New Orleans plays only twice in the next 10 nights.
But since this one’s an inter-conference series, Davis won’t play in Chicago until next season (yeah, yeah, in theory it could come in The Finals). He won’t even face his hometown team – and former UK teammate and fellow rookie Marquis Teague – until the first game after All-Star break, Feb. 19 in New Orleans.
That means the impression Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has now of Davis, and the prep work he put in for Saturday, will be on ice for a while.
“From what I’ve seen … he’s been very, very impressive,” Thibodeau told Chicago reporters. “Skilled. His athleticism, his shot-blocking, all that stuff brings a lot of energy to a team, so they’ll be dangerous.”
Once the kid’s head clears.
Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980.