Remember when Anthony Davis was a sexy MVP pick, everyone was praising the Alvin Gentry hire, and the Pelicans looked like a lock to make the playoffs and maybe even do something once they got there? That looks foolishly optimistic now, as the team is 7-19, closer to the Lakers than anyone else in the Western Conference, and thoroughly adrift in what was supposed to be a coming out party of a season.
Last night, they lost to the Suns in what’s become typical fashion: they gave up 52% shooting from the field, turned it over 21 times, and never mustered the fight to win a single quarter. Anthony Davis only got 12 shots in 42 minutes, and their jumbled backcourt never got anyone in sync whatsoever. Hell, Alex Len looked like the best big man in the game.
Gentry lit into his team after the loss:
“Terrible, terrible. ... bad effort,” Coach Alvin Gentry said afterward. “Not playing hard, not giving a damn, that’s the way I want to sum it up.”
There aren’t any easy solutions lying around in New Orleans. After a cruel run of late-training camp injuries, the team is mostly back to full strength. A dearth of positive momentum sure hurt, but they are tied for last in defensive efficiency with the Lakers, who aren’t a real team. Defense is about more than just effort and scheme, but those two factors play into defensive success more than in any other area. No team anchored around Anthony Davis, who has the wingspan of a pterodactyl, should ever be a below-average defensive unit, no matter how many Tyreke Evanses they have.
Some of the team’s failure is on Davis, but it’s pretty much on everyone. None of the three-headed point guard hydra of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (Eric Gordon, Evans, and a hobbled Jrue Holiday) are playing anywhere near their almost-all-star peaks. Gentry might have increased the Pelicans’ pace too much, and Omer Asik looks like one of the most offensively inept big men in the league.
They probably won’t sniff the playoffs this year, but they shouldn’t tank either. Wasting a healthy year of Anthony Davis isn’t worth a few more ping pong balls, and they’re still only 4.5 games out of contention. But with a stable of misfit parts and a grumpy superstar, they could stand to make a trade, because what they have now is a disaster.
Photo via AP