|Anthony Davis' rookie year goals are as big as his eyebrow. (Getty Images)|
We all knew that No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis wasn't lacking for confidence because he continues to rock a forehead moustache from ear-to-ear. But Davis' gaudy dreams for his rookie season with the New Orleans Hornets signify a whole new level of self-esteem.
In a New York Times interview, Davis, 19, laid out the following goals for his 2012-13 season with the Hornets, his first year as a professional after spending one season at the University of Kentucky.
Q. What do you want to accomplish in your first season in the N.B.A.?
A. Win rookie of the year. Make first-team all-rookie, first-team all-defense and defensive player of the year.
I suppose that Davis could have added "NBA MVP," "NBA scoring leader," "NBA champion" and "First-ballot Hall of Famer" to that list if he wanted to take his expectations from "unprecedentedly high" to "literally impossible," but otherwise it's safe to say that Davis has higher goals for himself than anyone else has for him.
Given his laundry list of achievements during his one season with the Wildcats -- NCAA title, NCAA tournament MOP, every meaningful POY honor, first-team All-American, etc. -- and a gold medal under his belt with Team USA, we can forgive Davis for thinking that things will always come this easy. There's no real harm in that.
But Yahoo Sports notes just how difficult it has been for a rookie to secure first-team all-defense and defensive player of the year throughout the NBA's history.
Since the NBA began handing out Defensive Player of the Year hardware after the 1982-83 season, no rookie has ever taken the award. The closest any rookie has come was in 1985-86, when Washington Bullets giant and league-leading shot-blocker Manute Bol placed second in voting behind sophomore Alvin Robertson, who averaged a league-leading 3.7 steals per game for the San Antonio Spurs.
In the 44 years since the NBA started naming an annual All-Defensive Team following the 1968-69 season, no rookie has ever been chosen as part of the first team. In fact, only five rookies have even made the second team, and they were pretty fair players themselves — new statue recipient Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor (1969-70); modern-day low-post guru Hakeem Olajuwon, then H-less in Houston (1984-85); rim protector Bol (1985-86); and the Spurs' twin-towers duo of David Robinson (1989-90) and Tim Duncan (1997-98).
So Davis would be going where no NBA man has gone before. Ever.
Clearly, making first-team all-defense is easier than being named defensive player of the year. Here are a few other comparisons when it comes to that recognition, for context. Big men first.
Tim Duncan was named to first-team all-defense in his second NBA season, 1998-99, although he spent four seasons at Wake Forest. David Robinson made first-team all-defense in his second season, 1990-91, after four years at Navy (plus a break for service). Hakeem Olajuwon made first-team all-defense in his third season, 1986-87, after three seasons at Houston. Dwight Howard, who came to the NBA straight from high school, first made the first-team all-defense in 2008-09, his fifth NBA season. Kevin Garnett didn't make the first-team all-defense until 1999-2000, his fifth season in the league. Ben Wallace didn't make the first-team all-defense until 2001-02, his sixth season in the league. Shaquille O'Neal never made a first-team all-defense.
What's more, even the NBA's biggest stars at other positions didn't crack the squad right off the bat.
Michael Jordan, who spent three seasons at UNC, landed on the first-team all-defense for the first time in 1987-88, his fourth season in the league. LeBron James, who went from the preps to the pros, wasn't named to his first-team all-defense until 2008-09, his sixth season in the NBA. Kobe Bryant, also a preps-to-pro jumper, made first-team all-defense in his fourth NBA season, 1999-2000. Chris Paul, who spent two seasons at Wake Forest, first made the first-team all-defense in 2008-09, his fourth year in the league.
Not to rain on his parade, but Davis is entering the NBA at such a young age that his most aggressive goals aren't just unrealistic for a rookie, they're not particularly likely to be achieved until he's in his mid-20s.
Does any of this matter? Not really. Setting sights high is exactly what a fanbase should want from its franchise player. There was no one around to carry the mantle for the Hornets last season. That shouldn't be a problem for the next decade or so.