Yet another sign of Anthony Davis' rapid ascension came on Thursday, when he was announced as one of the three cover athletes for NBA 2K16, along with MVP Stephen Curry and runner-up, James Harden. Davis, who took a major step last season, was also in the running for the most prestigious award in basketball in only his third NBA season.
Davis unleashed his otherwordly athleticism and basketball instincts on the league last year, producing 24.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks for the New Orleans Pelicans. Davis spoke with SI.com in advance of the cover reveal, discussing his breakout season, postseason debut, and the Pelicans coaching change.
SI.com: Did you grow up playing NBA 2K and what was your experience with the game?
Anthony Davis: Yeah, I grew up playing the game. I love 2K, that’s all I actually play. I had a great time when I was younger playing and even still to this day. They always made it lifelike as far as player movement, the hand motions that players do after fouls or when they get a bad call, so I always had a fun time playing it.
SI.com: After seeing your favorite players on the game, is it weird to know kids will pick it up and see you there?
AD: That’s kind of what you always dream of if you’re a gamer when you’re young; you dream of being on the cover of 2K. And now that the dream is coming true, it’s an amazing feeling. I always talked about wanting to be on the cover and now it’s happening. You can walk into a GameStop, a Walmart or whatever and that’s you on the cover of 2K. So it’s an amazing feeling and it’s just an honor.
SI.com: Do you know your player rating? ...and do you agree with it?
Davis: I don’t try to look at myself on 2K. I think that’s kind of weird. I try to stay away, so I don’t know my rating, I don’t know anything. I don’t know if it’s got my tattoos, I don’t know anything. I try to stay away from the Pelicans.
SI.com: The Pelicans made a coaching change this summer. Are you excited about having Alvin Gentry on board?
Davis: I know he did a lot in Phoenix when he was with Amar'e [Stoudemire] and Steve Nash. I remember watching them play all the time and how they played that up-tempo pace. I’m very excited for what he can bring to our organization. I can’t wait for the year to start and get rolling and see what he has to bring to our team to make us go to the next step.
SI.com: Has Gentry reached out to you at all since being named head coach?
Davis: I haven’t tried to reach out to him. I’ll let him reach out to me. I know right now he’s still the coach for the Warriors and trying to get a ring. When the series is over, I definitely want to reach out to him. He’ll probably reach out to me and try to talk more basketball and what our future will be.
SI.com: Do you have a sense of what places he can put you in on offense to capitalize on your skills?
Davis: That’s something we’ll have to sit down and talk about, figure out how he wants me to play, how I like to play and mix in the two. It’s going to be interesting. I like what he did with Nash and Amar'e. Not saying we have a Nash or Amare, but the way he utilized that pick and roll, it was a great thing to watch. We’ll definitely sit down and try to figure out how he wants me to play and try to go from there.
SI.com: Was it tough to see Monty Williams go and what lessons do you take with you?
Davis: It’s always tough to see a coach go. I came in with that coach and he taught me a lot about the game, about life, about being a man. It’s always tough to see the coach that you came in with leave. We still talk about everything. Just because he’s not coaching us anymore doesn’t mean he won’t be a factor in my life. We still keep in touch and I wish the best for him.
SI.com: You made your first postseason this year. What were your initial impressions of the playoffs?
Davis: The playoffs were an amazing experience. It was not the way we wanted to end our season, but I think we all learned from that series. I think we would have done things differently. After watching some film, we could have given ourselves a better chance of winning, but you learn from those mistakes. That was our first time in the playoffs as a group, my first time in the playoffs as a player, so we just went out there and played hard and we’re going to be ready for next year. We want to try to do the same thing: get in the playoffs and go further.
SI.com: You mentioned mistakes you saw in film study. What problems stood out from the others?
Davis: Just the whole Steph Curry situation. We just got to know where he is at all times. You can’t leave a shooter like that. We kind of lost him too many times. He was open on a lot of shots, him and Klay. So that’s everybody’s fault, guards and bigs, because it’s a team effort. I don’t think he felt us enough, as far as how playoff basketball is supposed to be physical.
We kind of let him roam around freely, and you can’t do that when a player's that great. You got to make sure you stay on him the whole time and make sure he takes tough shots. We didn’t do that, and that’s something we have to learn from as a team. Something I had to learn as a player—not giving guys that much space. In the playoffs, basketball is physical so my first time I was going to the basket and fouls I normally get in the season you don’t get postseason, so you got to have a different mentality and start preparing now in the summer.
SI.com: Do you think you fouled Curry on the corner three-pointer he hit to end Game 3?
Davis: I’m not sure. The ref didn’t call foul and we went to overtime and ended up losing, but you can’t go back and change anything now. They say I did, but there’s nothing you can do about it.
SI.com: You made a huge jump this season. Do you see next year as one of the most important in your career?
Davis: I try not to look at it that way. I just go out there and play basketball. People are going to say what they’re going to say whether you’re doing good or bad. I’m just going to go out there and play and let my game take it where it needs to be. Of course, I’m going to strive to help the team make the playoffs and that’s my only focus. The rest of the stuff I’ll let it all figure out itself.