Anthony Davis has continued to improve every year of his NBA career thanks to an unrelenting work ethic. There isn’t much the former Kentucky Wildcat can’t do on the court, but being tough on his teammates is an area where Davis lacks. 

If the New Orleans Pelicans expect to make noise in the West, Davis is going to need to do more than put up numbers. With averages of 24.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, and two blocks, Davis is the Pels’ best player and an MVP candidate, but he’s not the vocal leader that New Orleans needs.

Newly-retired Kobe Bryant was kind enough to offer Davis some advice on being a better leader. The two played together on the 2012 Olympic team in London, and Bryant is one of the greatest leaders to have ever played in the NBA.

“A guy has something in his teeth, and other guys just talk to him and let him be. They’re not going to tell him,” said Kobe to Davis, according to Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding. “I’m going to be the guy to tell you you’ve got something between your teeth. Then it’s on you whether you want to walk around looking stupid. But I am going to tell you.”

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Bryant’s words stuck with Davis, who’s always been the quiet guy on the court.

At just 23, it’s tough for him to empathize with some of the more tenured guys on the team, but he’s an All-NBA level player, and his skillset is one of the league’s most potent. As he matures, it’ll be easier and easier for him to be a better leader, but the time to start practicing is now.

It’s okay for him to congratulate teammates when they make a nice pass or a tough shot, but the negatives must be dealt with also. When mistakes happen, Davis needs to be the first guy to go to his teammate and help them learn, so it doesn’t happen again.

Being a leader also means being flexible with how you deal with certain personality types; if one of Davis’ teammates needs to be screamed at, he needs to do it. Contrarily, if someone can’t take the criticism that way, he’ll need to go about it in a nicer way.

The faster Davis takes Bryant’s remarks and acts on them, the faster Pelicans will be to being a legitimate team in the West. What needs to follow, though, is the execution on the skill side of the equation.

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