New Orleans offers some of the world's most renowned restaurants like Emeril's, Commander's Palace and Herbsaint. So what dish has Hornets rookie Anthony Davis fallen in love with since arriving to the Crescent City?
Specifically from the city's Reginelli's Pizzeria chain restaurant, where his pie of choice is a large with double pepperoni and double sausage.
"He eats pizza, man. It's like if anyone says, 'P … I' and then, 'Pizza,' he perks up," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "This dude has this fascination with pizza. It's unreal."
Despite the calories and carbohydrates acquired with each meat lover's slice, Davis, a slender 6-foot-11, 220-pounder, has not gained much weight since being drafted No. 1 overall last year. Davis says his high metabolism is keeping him from picking up pounds.
Hornets coach Monty Williams believes the 20-year-old is improving as a player, but says he will be better with more muscle. One game in particular that concerned Williams was when Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer physically punished Davis during a 96-87 win over the Hornets on Feb. 19. Davis finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, but said "he learned a lot" that night from the battering he received.
"Boozer made a point of trying to hurt him, basically," Williams said. "He just tried to smash him every play. I thought, 'This could be ugly for him if he doesn't get stronger.' I started talking to him about, 'Right now you have to use your quickness because you can't out-strength these guys.'
"That has been a turning point for him because he is starting to use his speed more, running more. Just doing all the things most guys can't do at his position. He's still a way off. If you look at his numbers and the way he's played and you have to give him a grade, one through 12th grade, he's like seventh or eighth grader because of the strength and know-how."
The ideal weight for Davis is debatable among the Hornets. They don't want him to add more than 20 pounds, fearful it could lead to back and knees injuries. Williams would like Davis to have a svelte and strong body similar to Blazers forward-center LaMarcus Aldridge, who is 6-11 and 255 pounds. An extra 15 pounds of muscle, including around seven in the upcoming offseason, is Williams' target for Davis.
Strength and conditioning coach Carlos Daniel is still trying to determine what the best weight is for the former Kentucky star.
Said Daniel, "People will say, 'This kid will look good at this weight,' but I don't 100 percent buy into that because you can look at guys like Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Tyson Chandler, those guys haven't put on an extreme amount of weight over their careers."
Davis is averaging a respectable 13.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Despite improved play since the All-Star break, it's too late for Davis to overcome Portland's Damian Lillard for the Rookie of the Year award. Instead, there's another Blazer he focuses on.
"[Aldridge] is a great example," Davis said. "L.A. came in looking like me, Dwight [Howard] came in looking like me, Kevin Durant, and they are all doing well in the league. That's a great comparison from coach. I am just trying to get better and stronger so I can eventually be on the level that they are."
Davis, whose weight training regimen includes lifting on game days, has been as high as 226 pounds this season, says Daniel. Despite the frequent workouts, Davis is keen in not overdoing it.
"You definitely don't want to get too strong," Davis said. "You don't want to get too big where you are not able to still do the things you do. You don't want to change your game at all because that's what got you there. You just want to be able to hold your own on the court."
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Davis can certainly hold his own at a dinner table, and the Hornets are counting that he'll follow healthy eating advice. Daniel says pizza is not the staple of Davis' diet anymore and he is eating smarter pre- and postgame meals.
Still, don't mention Reginelli's around him.
"He has done a better job of eating better throughout the season," Daniel said, "and not just having the thought of, 'Oh, I will just get a pizza.' "
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