Pelicans Scoop: How are Things Going?

Published: December 9, 2016

Are you happy with the Pelicans handling of Buddy Hield (his role, spot in the rotation, minutes, etc)? What would you like to see changed?

Jake Madison: I think it’s fine. Most people harping about his minutes this think it’s setting his development back, but that isn’t the case. There is more than enough time to work on shooting a defense during practice, and one on one time with coaches. And the fact is he isn’t helping the team right now. The Pelicans are trying to (re)build a culture, and that culture includes winning. So until he helps them with that his rotation minutes will lag. Just gotta give him time.

Mason Ginsberg: No issues with it to date. His usage has been erratic, but not unexpected given his performance so far. The Pelicans’ coaching staff is coaching to win games (more on this in Q3), and they’re using the players who they believe give the team the best chance to do that. If you think Buddy is legitimately better than other guys playing right now, that’s one thing (I disagree), but if the argument is development-related, I fail to align with that rationale. Not only does “development” occur at other points besides during games, but come on – the team has played 23 games. Let’s hold off a bit before panicking about Buddy.

Michael Pellissier: No, simply because he has been bad.  Alvin Gentry has allegedly “been on the hot seat,” so why people think he’d play someone who hasn’t found his footing yet is beyond me.  I was excited about Hield when we drafted him and acknowledged that he’d have a learning curve, but I definitely underestimated how steep it would be.  I still feel very confident that Buddy Hield will be a good NBA player, and I doubt sporadic playing time in his rookie season is going to alter his trajectory.  If anything, it may shield him some.

Graham McQueen: What if I told you Buddy has played 10 less minutes than Kris Dunn almost 40 more minutes than Joel Embiid this season? Obviously the situations couldn’t be more different. Embiid doesn’t do back to backs, is on a minute restriction, and the 76ers can take all the time in the world to develop him. But we are 22/23 games into Buddy Hield’s career. He’s played in every game, a lot of spot-appearances, but so far he’s 13th among rookies in total minutes. Just going by how he vs other rookies have played, not upsetting at all. Ryan mentioned in the most recent In The NO podcast that he is a guy who had to make a lot of adjustments in college to become the player he was. He is going to have to do the same now in the NBA, and that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Let’s wait until he’s shown he deserves more minutes before we start yelling for them.

Chris Trew: Buddy Hield’s replica jersey was for sale in the team store before the season started and I think that set expectations too high for the fan base. Now, a Jamal Murray jersey, that I could get behind.

James Grayson: Yes, completely fine with how they’ve handled things thus far. He’s a rookie after all and his performances have been inconsistent at best. On top of this, those crying for more minutes in the hope we may get some more wins may be shocked to see that he has the lowest Win-Share of any player on the roster sitting at -0.2. This isn’t upsetting as stated prior he’s a rookie, he’s going to have growing pains. But at this point the team needs to get wins and while I do understand the need of developing his skills we also need to consider the objective of actually winning basketball games.

What are your thoughts on how Anthony Davis is being handled this season?

JM: I was against his heavy minutes in the Memphis game, but you still have to play him. Especially if he isn’t injured. I think a lot of this is on Davis himself. He wants to play, says he can play, so they put him out there. He wants to win and the best way for the team to do that is with him on the court. Unless the Pelicans are packing in the season, and you could argue they should, he needs to be out on the court.

MG: I think his minutes have been too heavy at times, but I understand the overall thought process. Keep your superstar happy and ensure his numbers sit at MVP-caliber levels. That being said, my overall belief is that I think the team should be a little more careful with when they extend him to over 40 minutes and when they find time to give him a bit of a break. Keeping your franchise player happy and on the map is important, but making sure he stays healthy is just as important.

MP: Going back to the Gentry point, I don’t know how he could do anything else.  Davis is 23.  We have little to no offensive talent.  He wants to win.  His job is to keep Davis happy and to win some games, and I think putting a cap on AD’s minutes when a win is in sight isn’t going to make Davis happy.  That said, the Pelicans need to be careful about how much they’re playing AD, because he already gets nicked up a lot.. he certainly doesn’t need the cumulative effect of 38 minutes/game to weigh on him.  Philadelphia’s organization has been imposing minutes restrictions on Embiid, which Brett Brown has to follow.  You want to protect Davis, it has to come from up top, not a coach fighting to protect his job.

GM: There have been a couple games where I didn’t see a reason to play him extended minutes, but outside of that, I like it. How much do we need to “protect” him? If 35 minutes is too little to give us a real chance at winning games but 38 is too much to please people then you just aren’t going to please people. If he can play he should play. 1) because he is and wants to be our undisputed leader and 2) because we need to do every single thing possible that might make him even the tiniest bit happier. I’m with Mason that going over 40 too often is not good, but I want him on the court as much as possible.

CT: I think everyone in the entire world except for whoever is playing the Pelicans on any given night would agree with me – Anthony Davis should be bringing up the ball every possession, he should be calling the timeouts, he should be driving the team bus, he should be involved in every single aspect of the New Orleans’ Anthony Davis’.

JG: The handling of Davis for me comes into two sections: One, how is the coaching staff managing his on the court performance and two, how is the front-office managing the roster to help AD win. For the first part the coaching staff is doing a very good job of getting AD the ball in a variety of situations. His minutes are heavy at times, but that’s more to do with the fact that this team doesn’t have any other option but to play him so much. In order to keep games competitive they need to play him because the team is so much better with him than without. With regards to the second part, the front office really needs to ante up and do something to help AD. Not that you haven’t heard that before.

How hot is Alvin Gentry and Dell Demps’ seat right now?

JM: I’m at an advantage of writing this AFTER the 76ers game while the others are not, so I would say really hot. But I don’t know if ownership will pull the trigger mid season.

MG: Pretty hot, most likely. I wouldn’t do anything during the season though, because I’m just not sure what it accomplishes (see next question). If you wait until the end of the season, you can make a more informed decision rather than acting on impulse.

MP: Probably pretty hot, though I don’t think it should be.  I’m writing an article about this soon, so no spoilers today.

GM: Sources tell me that ownership has removed all floors and seating and replaced them with literal burning coals in an attempt to both motivate the staff and save money, so I don’t know how to answer this question.

CT:  I hope whoever the new coach is come February appreciates Mardi Gras and I hope Alvin Gentry thinks the float mocking his losing record isn’t too inappropriate.

JG: Gentry, hot but not enough for him not to be seated. Sort of like when it’s a hot summer’s day and you go to a park bench and sit down and immediately get up but then just push through the pain of hotness to remain seated. Demps: his chair is on fire and the fire extinguisher has been thrown out the window and his only means of sitting on said chair is by spitting on it.

What would making a coaching change mid-season accomplish?

JM: The offense or defense wouldn’t change, but the biggest thing it would accomplish is off the court. And that is accountability. Fans are frustrated with Benson right now. That is plainly obvious. Making a move would show that ownership isn’t okay with the current state of things. Could help appease fans who want blood.

MG: Almost nothing without an entire management overhaul. Swap in an interim coach and maybe he plays Buddy a bit more, but that will happen anyway whenever playoffs become unrealistic. Maybe philosophy changes – more focus on offensive rebounding and less on transition defense, for example – but the overall impact on performance would likely be minimal.

MP: Why? What offensive talent is waiting in the wings to be unleashed?  The Pelicans are something like 18th in net rating (as of the morning of 12/8) and are pretty much performing to expectations.  We blame coaches far too much for systemic problems in the organization.

GM: It would make many twitter personalities happy for a week. And that’s about it. In all seriousness I don’t see changing coaching during this season as having any effect on its outcome. Literally the only thing I can think of is that changing coaches now means you don’t have to do it later.

CT: It’s like, when you’re so hungry that you could eat an entire pizza but all there is is a slice, you’re all like, yeah that one slice isn’t that exciting. But if you don’t eat that slice you’ll die of starvation. So, let’s move on from Gentry (eat a slice) and order a whole pizza in July (George Karl) and please avoid overloading said pizza with unnecessary ingredients (Vinny Del Negro).

JG: Nothing. The team is a mess right now with no talent (that is able to play and healthy) so a new coach isn’t going to move the dial from under-500 to over-500 between now and the end of the season.

With the Pelicans playing the 76ers last night which franchise do you think is better setup for long-term success?

JM: This one is tough. I like Davis so much more so than Embiid (and I love Embiid). I don’t think this Philly team is set up for significant long term success. But they have so much more flexibility than the Pelicans and that is very important. So I reluctantly will take the Sixers here.

MG: Philly. Being totally honest, the Pelicans need a LOT of things to go their way to put a team together that is good enough to keep AD here past his current contract. I cannot make a good argument to take AD on his current contract over Embiid/Simmons/Saric on their current rookie deals. While Embiid or Simmons may or may not ever be as good as Davis, the margin for error around that team relative to New Orleans is much wider.

MP:  The 76ers.  Embiid is everything he was said to be and more, though his health is not enough of a given to inspire confidence.  Embiid is phenomenal and has a higher ceiling than Davis in my opinion.  If he can stay healthy and Simmons hits his ceiling… oh boy.

GM: You have to say Philly. I think it is unlikely either team is going to turn out a contender, but Philly has more assets, more cap in the future, and less issues with coaching, ownership, and the Front Office.

CT: I like Jo-Jo’s social media presence, I like Ben Simmons’ game, I think Brett Brown is a good dude, I appreciate their role players, but I am in love with Anthony Davis. Give me New Orleans or give me death.

JG: Philly. I love Ben Simmons (oh look the Australian likes the Australian NBA player… shocking) and outside of him they have some nice pieces. But to be honest my choice is less about the 76ers and more about the Pelicans. New Orleans is, as currently constructed, in a massive state of flux. There are so many crucial decisions that are to be made between now and next season that will significantly impact the future of the franchise (on the court obviously). There’s just not enough to convince me that the Pels are set-up better than Philadelphia. If 2 years ago you had told me I’d be saying that I would have called you crazy and reported you to the local authorities.


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