Reality check has set in for under-performing Pels
It was eight months ago. After the Golden State Warriors won their first NBA title since 1975, assistant coach and soon-to-be Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry turned to the camera in a joyous dressing room and spoke to Anthony Davis.
“We are going to be right back here, next year,” said Gentry.
If only it were that easy.
At the All-Star break, the Pelicans’ immediate future isn’t good, and the future beyond that isn’t good either.
Guard Tyreke Evans is out till after the break with right knee soreness. Guard Eric Gordon is out with a fractured ring finger.
And, even if the band were all together, would the Pelicans be good enough? If you have watched at least some basketball this season, you know the answer.
So, what do the Pelicans do now?
All-Star forward Davis is the only draft pick who remains on the roster since general manager Dell Demps took over in the summer of 2010.
Forward Ryan Anderson, who has improved his field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage, free throw percentage, points per game and rebounds per game, is a free agent at the end of the season. With the salary cap expected to rise dramatically, Anderson’s pay will rise accordingly. Earning $8.5 million this season, Anderson is a bargain.
So, what do the Pelicans need? Well, for starters, they need young bodies who can guard.
Last season, under head coach Monty Williams, the Pelicans allowed 98.6 points per game. One year later, the Pelicans were allowing 105 points per game through the first 50.
The Pelicans are scoring about 102 points per game this season, as compared to 99.4 a year ago.
When he was fired, Williams was criticized by some for running a half-court, plodding offense. But, perhaps by using more of the clock, Williams was protecting a defensively inefficient team from defending more possessions.
When Williams was fired, the Pelicans, we were told, would score more, win more and just be a lot more fun. Players raved about Gentry’s up-tempo offense.
Gentry urged Demps to keep the core of the team together to make another playoff run.
Then, the season started with 11 losses in the first 12 games.
The Pelicans still have their first-round pick in the June draft. Along with Davis, guard Jrue Holiday is a tangible asset.
But it takes a lot more than that to compete in the Western Conference. At the All-Star break, hoops reality for the New Orleans Pelicans has set in.