Quiet Preparations

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Published: August 30, 2013
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The soft parade has now begun
Listen to the engines hum
People out to have some fun
A cobra on my left
Leopard on my right

– The Doors, The Soft Parade

New Orleans Pelicans News

Last week, the Pelicans signed Lance Thomas (again) and forward Arinze Onuaku. Both players seem to have been signed to unguaranteed 2-year deals for the minimum. When we learn the guarantee details, we’ll pass them along.

Al-Farouq Aminu and the Nigerian national team cooled after a hot start, losing to both Senegal and Cape Verde, placing them out of the next World Cup. They play Morocco for seventh place in the tournament.

The New Orleans Pelicans are having success in their offseason team activities.

Although Pelicans training camp is still one month away, the atmosphere during the team’s recent voluntary workouts has been closer to that of mid-season intensity. With a large group of players choosing to come to New Orleans for ultra-early preparations, they’ve nearly been able to put 10 current Pelicans players on the floor at once. For example, there were nine Pelicans at the Alario Center on Thursday, including Davis, Rivers, Tyreke Evans, Darius Miller, Arinze Onuaku, Brian Roberts, Jason Smith, Lance Thomas and Jeff Withey.

The Pelicans had some players in to work out, but no players have been signed yet. We’ll keep you posted.

Around Bourbon Street Shots

Since the last news roundup, we’ve had a Trew to the Game where he fielded questions from readers on twitter. It was so fun, I thought I would shamelessly ape this for the Voices this week.

`Voices’ of the People

@BourbonStShots @christrew since my tweet was picked, obviously it was awesome. I want more posts featuring me. Next time though, more me

@MikeDatTiger

@Trew2TheGame @BourbonStShots After seeing #Suns uniforms I like #Pelicans a lot better. Wow remember it could always be worse.

@kkupar

@BourbonStShots how about a shoutout for a young sports writer trying to make it in this game.. love the pelicans.. thank you! #NOLA

@NOPsportsTalk

42 Sense

The Jackson stash, the Thomas waive and re-sign, the Onuaku signing, the ongoing tryouts are all quiet preparations for the upcoming season. Slightly less quiet is the 5-on-5 game series the Pelicans are running in fully voluntary workouts. Thomas may not be a difference-maker on the NBA court in his 10 minutes per game (2012-2013 stat), but he’s making a huge difference on the practice court since he’s adding part of those 5-on-5 drills, as is Onuaku.

So, how much difference do these signings make? You can’t tell just by looking at their line in the box score this season.

The Pelicans intend to move practices to their practice facility in the coming weeks. The move home. They’ll be at a top flight facility on campus with the rest of the organization, the Saints, and the owners.

How much difference will that make?

I beat this drum for a long time and will continue to paradiddle until they teach the fact in kindergarten. People, myself included, often refer to the little things, but sometimes this is incorrect. These so-called little things are really huge potentially. The investment, however, is often removed from the payoff, making the move `quiet’. The changes are sometimes slow which adds to the silence.

Compare player development to that from however many years ago. Use of other leagues. Maximal use of offseasons. Judicious use of cap space.

Fans are often focused on the draft because of the lure of the franchise-changing player coming into an organization on a good contract and under control for many years. They also focus on trades since many top teams improve through trades due to their cap situation as it relates to the CBA. Certainly drafting and trading are important, but so are a myriad of other things. These moves don’t require acknowledgement or praise, of course.

Still, these quiet moves are a necessary part of any eventual success.

Remember, it’s not about Lance Thomas, Ryan Anderson, Monty Williams, Tom Benson, Chris Paul, or Eric Gordon. It’s about Anthony Davis. Full stop.

14 comments
LaNative
LaNative

The season is going to be amazing!  In my opinion Benson, Loomis and Demps had to change the culture and they did that by (1) an immediate commitment to winning; (2) a new world-class practice facility and, (3) renovations to the Arena.  For the casual follower(s) these changes may not seem like much but for those of us who have followed this team since arriving in NOLA, know that these are major steps for the team once called the Hornets.  And to show my continued enthusiasm, I believe that EG10's injuries may have caused him frustration and despondency  I think he's excited because of the talent and we will see the EG10 we thought we were getting versus that side B version.  If EG10 is the competitioner I think every player at this level is....he's gonna come into camp and work hard because he too senses that we're on the brink of something special besides he's expendable too.  Davis is definitely showing himself as a leader.  That says a lot about the off-the-floor ability of our young cornerstone.  Austin Rivers is going to work hard and that's going to pull out more from the other guys.  I really like him and hope that he can pull it all together and I believe he will if he just settles down and let his game shine.

Pelican Poster
Pelican Poster

NOtice that the list does not include Gordon on it.  Holiday is also not listed but I can give him some slack as he's likely having a hard time "getting away" from his new USA Soccer wife...

Clef504
Clef504

On another note. Fab Melo just got waived. I think we should pick him up and let him develop

nolahog
nolahog

Love the 5 on 5 article!  Everyone fits their roles so well.  Austin petulantly storming out of the Alario while Davis gleefully heckles him, Evans showing up for these voluntary practices and being surprised how different this group is than Sacramento, Lance Thomas grinding because he's so psyched just be back on the team. . . 

These guys are going to be good.  Wish I was out there with them.  

Is it wrong that I get an erection when I start thinking about this upcoming season?

PelaSaintiac
PelaSaintiac

There is a mechanism for submitting change suggestions, and this isn't it.

RobertWelch
RobertWelch

Yes, the future of this team is all about Davis, his full potential will be the face of this franchise for years to come, and that should be great indeed. But this year, isn't it really about Gordon? A healthy and engaged Gordon could really be the difference this year for the team to contend for a playoff spot. The difference between Gordon being on the court and doing what he does, doing it well, vs. him being on the bench, or being disinterested, is likely the single biggest variable in this years team. That will determine whether it is just an improved team this year (which it has to be at a minimum) or whether they make the jump to being a contender. Just how far this team will go this year will rest largely on Gordon's shoulders. Let's hope he is up for it.

Pelican Poster
Pelican Poster

Digging that "Side B" reference....still have a box full of 45's sitting in my closet! Never thought that "45" name would look so good now...

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes moderator

@nolahog It might not be best for their `brand' or whatever, but I love to see the real relationships between these real people . . . not the marketing mannequins, video game cartoons, or face chess pieces these guys are normally portrayed as.

Austin is as polished (off the court) as they come. For him to be flustered, you know it's real, and you know that he has the drive to succeed. We'll see if he has the rest of it. 

There truly is some good stuff in the seams of the article. 

And . . . I'd see a physician about that . . . I'd say doctor, but I don't want to cause confusion with your favorite mathematician . . .

504ever
504ever

@RobertWelch 

I would say after Davis, this team is about the guys we surround Davis with.  That includes Holiday, Evans, and Gordon as the "newcomers with tons of potential" of whom less is known (and let's face it Gordon hasn't played that much and maybe played with a poor attitude at times in the past that we don't know that much about him as a player), "known commodity returning players" like Anderson, Smith, Aminu, and Thomas, and who knows what we got guys like Rivers, Stiemsma, Morrow, Whithey, Onuaku, etc.  But the "newcomers with tons of potential" are the keys to the season.

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes moderator

@RobertWelch 100% valid. 

I tend to take an oft-felt too-long view on things, but someone has to. I'll likely lay this out in the offseason, but now that I feel better about Benson's ownership, which I'm feeling safe enough about the NBA's future here (Arena included), I'm focusing on the next most important milestone: Davis signing a contract AFTER the one he signs as our designated player (taking this as granted). To get that, we have to be good. Really good. If Gordon is a part of that, great. If not, great. I'm just painting with a particular brush, and I could have been more specific.

I'll leave it to others to worry if we'll win 41 games or 42(!) games and why. 

About Benson: I always felt he was the safe pick (this may be EXACTLY what I told Joe in his roundups (or are they rundowns?), but I'm surprised by how much flexibility and creativity they've shown in such a short time, and with how much they've accomplished in so many areas.

About variables: Gordon is a big variable in the short term. In the more medium term, Aminu and these other signings are big variables. Absolutely smashing on Withey or Aminu's improving his jumper to sort-of-bad or ball handling to horrible would make pretty big difference in that next-year-or-two timeframe.

Thoughts?

RobertWelch
RobertWelch

@504ever I'm talking about this next year, I think Gordon is the main variable that will give the team a good shot at making the playoffs THIS season. Davis is the long term foundation of the team, but this season I think it's Gordon who has the highest ceiling, and can carry the team to a good enough season for playoff berth. If Gordon doesn't play to what we know to be his potential, then the pieces around Davis won't be enough to elevate Davis, and therefor the team, past the other teams that have improved this year and potentially stand in our way to a post season.

I'd say Jason is spot on with Davis, the critical point in his career will be right around the time of his next contract. He's an impact player now, but not one to carry the team yet. We'll have to see how much he develops this year (and next). If he gets stronger, and shows new developments to his game, maybe shows that he is going to develop a post up game or shows significant progress on his shooting range (ala Durant), then we'll have a better idea of just how far he can go. But either way, it will take a few years to arrive there.

RobertWelch
RobertWelch

@504ever I can see where you are coming from, and agree that those three will be important together. That said, I'm just looking at each of their abilities, and Gordon has demonstrated the highest ceiling of the three. It's not to say that Evans or Holiday can't become equally effective to Gordon. If either or both do, then it will be fantastic for the team. I also agree that Holiday being the PG makes him somewhat pivotal.

I guess, from what I can see looking forward to this season, I just feel like looking at all the players on the team I feel that Gordon has demonstrated in the past that he for sure has the ability to carry the team THIS season as the #1 option when it comes time to get the wins needed to make the playoffs. Any number of other plays could wind up being that person this season, Evans, Holiday, Davis among them, maybe even someone else. But based on past performance and judging potential on that, it would seem that Gordon is the most likely to be, if he plays to that potential.

504ever
504ever

@RobertWelch @504ever  

I guess where I disagree is I see the Pelican both more like and trying to be more like the Spurs: they want to play and win as a team.  So Gordon is just one piece of the guard puzzle, along with Holiday and Evans.  I expect all three of those guys to average starter's minutes (25+ minutes/game).  I see them all basically as "new" to the Pelicans, and the best players not named Davis.

I don't see Gordon as being a more important variable than Holiday or Evans.  In fact, if I had to pick one as more important, it's Holiday for me.  He has a lot of questions to answer, too.  Which Holiday are we getting from last year: early or late season?  How well will he blend here in a totally new situation and with all new players?  How will he do in a situation where he is not "the man" on the Pelican's team?  

In addition, Holiday is going to be the PG with the ball in his hands on offense and be applying the first ball pressure on defense.  To me, those roles are more important than Gordon's or Evan's.