(right) is averaging 18.8 points and 10.2 rebounds. (Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images)
The Pelicans announced Tuesday that forward Anthony Davis will miss 4-to-6 weeks after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his left (non-shooting) hand. If Davis misses four weeks, he will be sidelined for 12 games; if he takes six weeks to return to the court, he will miss 20 games.
The injury occurred during the first quarter of New Orleans' 103-99 win over New York on Sunday. He departed with 1:32 remaining in the first quarter and he did not return, finishing with seven points (on 2-for-6 shooting) and four rebounds in 10 minutes. The Times-Picayune reported that Davis suffered the injury when he hit his hand on the rim while attempting a dunk.
"I am hoping it is a short-term thing, so I can get back on the floor," Davis said. "I felt pain. I didn't think it was going to keep me out. I am happy that my team battled for the whole 48 (minutes) and got that W."
Davis, 20, is averaging 18.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, and a league-best 3.6 blocks while shooting 49.8 percent during his second NBA season. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft has been one of the league's top performers so far this season, ranking in the top 10 in Player Efficiency Rating, Win Shares, Offensive Rating, rebounds per game, and blocks per game.
Coach Monty Williams has his hands full replacing Davis, who was leading the Pelicans in scoring, rebounds and blocks at the time of his injury. New Orleans has moved reserve forward Ryan Anderson into the starting lineup, a logical move that has paid immediate dividends on offense: the smooth-shooting Anderson has scored 67 points combined over the last two games, and he looks both ready and capable to shoulder a greater degree of the offensive burden. The other side of the ball is the bigger issue: Williams' No. 23 ranked defense is left to manage with only Jason Smith and seldom-used rookie Jeff Withey in the middle, as Greg Stiemsma is sidelined with a knee sprain.
Hoping to compete for its first postseason appearance since 2011, New Orleans is 9-8 so far this season. There's never a good time to lose a rising superstar due to injury, but the Pelicans face a daunting December. Ten of their 12 remaining games this month will come against teams with serious Western Conference playoff aspirations (Dallas, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Golden State, the Clippers, Houston, Denver twice and Portland twice). Plenty of playoff sorting will take place between now and the New Year, and it's possible that Davis will return to a Pelicans team that faces an uphill climb to get back into the playoff picture.
Davis appeared in just 64 games during his rookie season and New Orleans shut him down in April
after an MRI revealed he had suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee.