New Orleans Pelicans information, analysis and discussion Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:43:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Trew 2 the Game: The Louisiana Basketball History Museum Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:43:10 +0000 On the latest episode of Trew 2 the Game, I am joined by Jason Calmes to fantasize and speculate about the upcoming Louisiana Basketball History museum in the Smoothie Kind Center.

Stream the podcast right here at Bourbon Street Shots (look to the right!), right here on It’s New Orleans, Stitcher, or subscribe on iTunes.




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Mining the Numbers: Pumping the Brakes on Davis Thu, 27 Aug 2015 16:31:55 +0000 Alright guys, it’s time for a reality check.  I know it’s hot and sexy to see boundless potential for the upcoming season, and I’ve heard a lot of reasons why:  Alvin Gentry is going to implement a system that turns Eric Gordon into Eric Gordon, and Darren Erman will make Omer Asik into Dikembe freakin’ Motumbo!  Jrue Holiday will play more games!  Alonzo Gee has LeBron James-level talent, give or take one LeBron James worth of talent!  We have Quincy, Cole and Cunningham all season and not a bench that resembles a bag of flaming poo!  Ryan Anderson will rain death long-range death in volumes not seen since World War II!

I’ve heard them all(well, most of them) but I haven’t listed the one that leaves me the most floored when I hear it.

Anthony Davis is going to make a leap!

Good god, guys.  Do you even know what you are asking?  If you want a significant improvement from Davis – one that would actually move the needle over what he did last year, you’re asking him to post the greatest season ever.  Seriously.  Do you know who posted better PERs than Davis did last year?  Three people: Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, and LeBron James.  That’s it.  10 total seasons from those 3 guys.

So that all we’re asking.  “Hey Anthony! At age 22, do something the greatest players in the History of Basketball never managed to do before age 24.  Oh, and do it better!”

It’s sick.  And there’s another reason it’s ridiculous of us to expect it:

Most superstars go through a regression season where their production falls off after a huge spike.  Here’s the list of major stars over the last 25 years, age 25 or younger, who posted a high PER season in their third or fourth season, and then suffered a significant regression season following it:

  • Shaquille O’Neal
  • Kevin Durant
  • LeBron James
  • Tracy McGrady (and he kept falling)
  • Dirk Novitski
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Grant Hill
  • Tim Duncan
  • Chris Webber
  • Amare Stoudemire
  • Vince Carter
  • Kevin Love
  • Elton Brand
  • Clyde Drexler
  • Allen Iverson

Here’s the list that didn’t:

  • Chris Paul
  • Dwayne Wade
  • Dwight Howard
  • Michael Jordan
  • Kevin Garnett

Now, I left a few off like Penny Hardaway and Derrick Rose who had spikes and then their bodies failed, but you can see the lists.  Players trajectories aren’t always one way.  They have down seasons.  They are asked to do different things and it takes a while for them to adjust. (Hello? Gentry wants him shooting threes?)

So please, let’s pump the brakes a little bit on Davis.  He’s amazing.  He’s neck and neck with LeBron James and Durant as the best players in the game already.  He can probably boost this teams wins total by a few games just by playing closer to the superstar minutes goal of 3000 than the 2400 he put up last year.

But can we really ask this much of him?  Already?


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Alvin Gentry Observations from :07 Seconds or Less Fri, 21 Aug 2015 15:30:07 +0000 While this Jack McCallum book was published way, way back in 2007 (back when New Orleans gave Morris Peterson 4 years 23 million) it’s an addicting read of a basketball team that most states not named Arizona don’t bother banking in the memory. It’s extra relevant to us, Pelicans fans, as Chief Pelican Alvin Gentry was an assistant on this particular Phoenix Suns team.

Yours truly sped through this gem in record time and documented a few highlights below. To get the full effect, however, you must order the book yourself and dive all up in it.

OGentryBookn the importance of a head coach: “You slide down two feet on that bench and you just feel the difference in pressure.” Here’s hoping Mr. Gentry responds well to that pressure, yeah?

In response to the Suns being pushed around physically by another team, Gentry said, “Eighteen years in the NBA and I can tell you this: It’s either in you or it’s not.” Another gem on physical play: “if you get a reputation as a punk-ass team it’s one of the worst things that can happen.” Perhaps we can expect the Pelicans to incorporate a tougher mentality on the court?

Gentry’s comedic nature (Dismissing New York Knick and ESPN alumni Greg Anthony as “a Republican”) and leadership skills (often referred to as “the pro’s pro”) are well documented in this book – whether you’re already looking forward to the Alvin Age or you need some convincing, this book is highly recommended.

Chris Trew is a comedian and Pelicans season ticket holder. See him perform regularly at The New Movement, a full time New Orleans comedy venue or in professional wrestling rings in Austin, Tx. Follow him on Twitter here and listen to his podcast (up there to the right!). 

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Mining the Numbers: Quincy, Cole and Cunningham Tue, 18 Aug 2015 13:55:27 +0000 Friggin’ Utah.  They are always trying to crap all over our parade.  First, they aren’t Jazzy.  Second, Deron Williams never was, at any point, under any condition, AT ANY TIME, better than Chris Paul.  EVER.  Now, once again, they have to get all uppity and try to one-up us again.  “19-10 in the last 29!!!” Their supporters shout.  “Our team is better than its record was!  We be going to the playoffs because we got a star badass shotblocker!”

Well guess what, Utah?  The Pelicans went 18-11 in the last 29!  And they did it without their star point guard who will return for . . . some number of games this year!  And this time, they will have the full use of the bench mob that made it all possible for an entire season!  And Anthony Davis is to Rudy Gobert as Darth Vader is to Count Dooku.  It’s just embarassing to even compare them.  (And his name is Rudy.  I mean, come on.)  So there!

. . .

Okay, now that I’ve totally exorcised my Utah demons, let’s move on to what the numbers tell us about last years post All-Star break Pelicans, who were missing Jrue, but had added Quincy, Cole and Cunningham to the rotation in relief of Salmons and Rivers. (I tried so hard to come up with a fishy pun there, but failed utterly.  There’s got to be something about damned Rivers and Salmon runs, or something, right?)

The impact of those three guys was, not surprisingly, mostly to the defensive side of the ball.  While the team did improve one spot from the 9th most efficient offense to the 8th most efficient, the real improvement came defensively, where the team improved from 25th to 18th.  That pushed the team from outscoring teams by 0.1 points per game (yes, one tenth of a point per game) to 2.4 – a rate that is normal for a team that wins about 48 games a season.

Primarily they did this by ramping up the pressure on the perimeter, limiting opponents to fewer threes than they were taking earlier in the season, and then only allowing a FG% of 30.2% from behind the arc, second during that timespan only to the . . .wait . . . what? the UTAH JAZZ??? (God DAMNIT! Mother——-s!)

. . .

Ahem.  Anyways there were some other interesting developments during that time span as well.  With Jrue benchbound, the Pelicans actually improved their passing numbers.  They moved from 24th to 8th in the league at assist rating, from 10th to 7th in the league in Assist to turnover ratio, Anthony Davis’ saw his assist rate leap from 9% to 15.8% during that time, and Evans saw similar improvement as both players played larger roles initiating offense.  In perhaps a related matter, the Pelicans eFG% went from 16th to 8th.

Perhaps unsurprisingly – with all that attention to perimeter shooters, the offset to all the good news is that with those three guys, the Pelicans went from a strong rebounding team to a middling one.  Ranked 6th overall (2nd OFF, 12th DEF) the Pelicans fell to 15th during those last 29 games, right behind the . . . damnit, no!  Not the UTAH JAZZ?!?

(Okay, I lied, the Magic were 14th, and the Jazz were . . . 2ND?!?  That is even worse. God damnit!  Friggin’ UTAH!)

. . .

Ok.  That does make me wonder how this team will look under Gentry.  It’s hard to run when your team can’t rebound, but it’s equally hard to run when your team can’t defend.  The answer may be to limit time given to Quincy and Cole at the same time – as their line-ups tended to be disastrous on the boards. Still, however you slice it, Gentry has a roster with at least 10 reasonable options to work with – which is a hell of a lot better than the team Monty was working with to start last year.  And, with those three guys on board, he also can at least put the semblance of an NBA defense on the court at all times – something that was near impossible for the first half of last year.

And, improving from 18th to, say, a respectable 10th-12th also seems a lot more reasonable too.  And that should be all that is necessary to make this team push for homecourt.

Nice to be talking about that, isn’t it?

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What if New Orleans Beat San Antonio in the 2008 Playoffs? Thu, 13 Aug 2015 15:12:58 +0000 It’s still a sore subject amongst hypothetical water coolers in New Orleans, so let’s put on our What If Spacesuits and dive into the outer space possibilities that the Pelicans Hornets defeated the Spurs in that dastardly Game 7. Now what?

Ryan Schwan joins me for a trip down memory lane. Stream the podcast right here at Bourbon Street Shots (look to the right!), right here on It’s New Orleans, Stitcher, or subscribe on iTunes.

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Breaking Down the New Orleans Pelicans 2015-16 Schedule Thu, 13 Aug 2015 00:09:52 +0000 While we spend the majority of our time discussing free agent acquisitions like Jason Terry, trade possibilities like Markieff Morris, and re-signings like Norris Cole at this time of year, the truth is that none of those things will likely move the needle this season when it comes to the win column. The Pelicans are a team that can finish this season with anywhere between 45 and 60 wins depending on a large number of factors including health, elements of in-game luck, and yes their schedule.

If a team wins 45 games, they are not a “45 win team.” I mean, I guess technically they are, but it’s not that simple. Does anybody believe that the Pelicans would have gone 2-3 on their easy East Coast trip last season if they had that trip earlier (when healthy) or later (once they gelled + got Cole)? Or, imagine that they faced opponents who were on the 2nd night of a back to back 20 times, and only had 12 back to backs themselves – Wouldn’t that have meant more wins than the other way around, which is what happened last year?

All schedules are not created equal, and the Pelicans have not caught a break with the schedule for the past few seasons. A big part of that is because they are one of the eastern most teams in the Western Conference. Rarely do they get teams on the 2nd night of a back to back, as that generally goes to more centrally located teams. They also tend to have numerous back to backs – often on brutal west coast trips. With that in mind, let’s look at some important factors in the Pelicans 2015-16 schedule.

Total Number of Back to Backs: 17 (slightly below average)

Back to Backs w/ 2nd Game on the Road: 11

Back to Backs w/ 2nd Game at Home: 6

Games Played more Rested than Opponent: 28 (most in the league)

Non-Division Western Conference Teams they Play 4 Times: Clippers, Suns, T’Wolves, Blazers, Jazz, Kings

Non-Division Western Conference Teams they Play 3 Times (twice at home): Lakers, Nuggets

Non-Division Western Conference Teams they Play 3 Times (twice on road): Warriors, Thunder

West Coast Trip(s): Dec. 14-20 (Portland, Utah, Phoenix, Denver); Jan. 10-13 (Clippers, Lakers, Kings)

East Coast Trip(s): Mar 9-12 (Charlotte, Memphis, Milwaukee); April 3-6 (Nets, Philly, Boston)

Easiest Month: April – The Pelicans could seriously go unbeaten down the stretch. The closing month features 7 games — at Nets, at Philly, at Boston, vs. LAL, vs. PHX, vs. Chicago, at Minny. Even the end o f March is easy. The final 10-12 games could see the Pels make a huge surge if the Western Conference is as close as we all expect it to be.

Toughest Month: February. It is a toss up between December and February, as the Pels have more road games in December, but tougher opponents in February. In February, they get OKC twice, are at Cleveland, San Antonio, and Washington, and also play Memphis. Luckily, they have a nice long week break in the middle of the month to recover.

National TV Games: 13 (8 on ESPN, 5 on TNT), including opening night vs. the Warriors and Christmas Day against the Heat

Overall Grade: B+

You gotta love all the national exposure and having a below average number of back to backs is good for a change. I also like that our one 4 game in 5 night stretch comes against some weak opponents (Philly, Boston, LAL, Phoenix). I am also very excited that we get Dallas early. We play them twice right out of the gate and have all four games with them by January 6th. Any team that had major roster overhauls and/or guys coming off major surgery, you want early. The Pels get that with Dallas and Portland. They also get Atlanta twice in the first two weeks of the season, as they will try to learn how to play w/o Demarre Carroll.

I would have liked to see San Antonio earlier, as they will take time to gel. The Pels get them once in November, but don’t play them again until February. Basically, they will have to play them three times after they hit their infamous stride. I also don’t like that both trips to OKC are on the 2nd night of a back to back. Ideally, I would like to play the Lakers 4 times and the Clippers 3, but that is nitpicking. Overall, I think the Pelicans schedule is pretty balanced and there is a chance to go on a big run from mid-March to the end of the season. Something like 13-2 would not be out of the question, so if the Pelicans can just stay in the race and jockey for position, they can make a late charge and steal home court down the stretch.




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Mining the Numbers: The Dark Side of Ryan Anderson Tue, 11 Aug 2015 21:48:06 +0000 I love me some threes.  LOVE Them.  It’s partly why I hate the Warriors, because all the threes belong to them.

It follows then that I’d love Ryan Anderson . . . and I do.  When he was signed for a criminal 8mil per, despite being a restricted free agent, I was a bit like this guy from that excellent Anime, Hunter x Hunter.


Though . . . maybe not quite like that . . . since he was looking at a 12 year old . . . and is referred to as a child kill-ester by my son . . . Um, let’s just move on! (It is a good show though!)

Like Graham McQueen posted a couple months ago, there are a lot of reasons we should be excited about Ryan Anderson and his potential in Alvin Gentry’s system.  There is, however, a dark side to Ryan Anderson you simply can’t escape:

He makes your defense suck.  Like really, really bad.  Like awful.  Like tire-fire bad.

You take the team’s big five of Asik-Davis-Evans-Gordon-Holiday, and replace Asik with Anderson and the offense gets 9 points per 100 possessions better.  That’s huge as far as impact goes.  The team’s defense?  It gets 17 points per 100 possessions worse.  For those of you not good at math, that’s huger.

Anderson is essentially taking a top 10 defense, lighting it on fire, and replacing it with the Knicks . . . without Carmelo.  And this issue is consistent across the board.  Insert Anderson for Asik in a line-up with Davis-Pondexter-Gordon-Evans, and the offense gets 11.5 pp100 better and the defense gets 14 pp100 worse.  In the end, you won’t find a single line-up with Anderson in it that even approaches average defensively.

In addition, if you go to’s stats tool and look at the worst opponent fg% at the rim for players who

A. Defended more than 5 attempts at the rim per game, and

B. Played 24 mpg in at least 25 games

you get:

  1. Enes Kanter (UTA) 57.3%
  2. Enes Kanter (Total) 56.9%
  3. Nikola Pekovic (Min) 56.5%
  4. Enes Kanter (OKC) 56.4%
  5. Gorgui Dieng (Min) 55.8%
  6. Jordan Hill (LAL) 55.4%
  7. Ryan Anderson (NOP) 55.4%

In other words, he’s almost as bad as all three versions of Enes Kanter – a guy who is hated by advanced defensive metrics so badly that he is panned as one of the worst deals this off-season, despite being a near lock for a 20-10 statline.  Sheesh.

Therefore, I propose that we no longer include Ryan Anderson as a part of the teams Big Five.  Asik, whose line-up numbers are stellar, should now take that honor.   Who is with me?

. . .

At least until Ryan Anderson hits a couple threes, then screw all that defense noise.

(You’ll notice I called it the Big five, and not the Finishing Five like McNamara does.  Because, you know, Asik has trouble finishing.

. . .

That sounds bad.  Let’s just end this column now before things get more weird.)


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Mining the Numbers: Talking Dante Cunningham Thu, 06 Aug 2015 16:26:45 +0000 Unlike most New Orleans basketball off-seasons of recent memory, the season in the past still has a lot of relevance for the upcoming season. The team hasn’t really changed, even if its coaching staff has, so I’m going to be spending some time over the summer pulling out the odd number here and there and posting short articles about them for your consumption. First off the mark:

Dante Cunningham

If you listen to our podcast, you’ll have heard I wasn’t a big fan of the Dante Cunningham signing. I felt that he was a minimum player, eminently replaceable, and questioned why would Dell give guaranteed money over multiple years to go a guy like that.

Well now that I’ve started poking through various numbers and there are some bits that gives me pause.

The most obvious and in my face piece of data is that Dante was one member of the most effective 5-man lineup that played at least a couple games worth of minutes. That line-up was Asik/Davis/Cunningham/Gordon/Evans, and it outscored opponents by 11.4 points per 100 possessions in 210 minutes. That lineup narrowly edged out the big 5 – Asik/Davis/Evans/Gordon/Holiday – which outscored opponents by 11.3 points per 100 possessions in (sigh) only 171 minutes together.

The two line-ups posted very similar overall numbers, with the Big 5 lineup generating higher assist and eFG percentages, but the Holiday for Cunningham switch posting (predictably) much higher rebounding numbers on both ends of the floor.

It’s hard to ignore that – even though it’s equally hard to dig anything else out of Dante’s other numbers that show he’s consistently above average at components of the game. He takes part in line-ups that can’t defend and can defend, line-ups that turn the ball over and don’t turn the ball over, line-ups that generate and defend against fast breaks, and line-ups that can’t do either.

If I had to sum up his numbers profile it would be this:  line-ups with him in them tend to defend very well, tend to rebound well offensively, tend to give up a lot fast break points, and tend to get more shots than normal in the dumb zone.  (none of these are always true, but generally more true than not)  It’s also true that Dante’s line-ups tend to be either effective or very bad.  His line-ups are either +4 or better . . . or -7 and lower.

That does confirm our picture of a guy focused on offensive rebounding (and as a result not getting back defensively), working hard on defense, and taking mid-range jumpers when he shoots.  If you put him in line-ups where he doesn’t have to shoot and there’s another quick big to get back on defense (Davis) he’s going to dramatically help you, especially defensively.  If he’s expected to defend in transition or take shots – you’re in real trouble.  Dante is a player that can be crippling or fairly beneficial.

Do you pay $3mil a year for that guy?

You do if you think Alvin Gentry is a guy who maximizes players more than he minimizes them.  That is clearly what Demps believes, and it is probably the most interesting question about this upcoming season.

I hope he’s right, or he’s probably out of a job.

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What if New Orleans lost the Anthony Davis lottery? Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:16:37 +0000 Aside from a relocation or a rebrand to Angels, the worst case glad-that-didn’t-happen scenario for Crescent City basketball fans is that we didn’t get Anthony Davis. The good news is that Davis is here, in New Orleans, playing for the Pelicans.  But it’s the offseason and your body needs more Pelicans to digest. So we’ve got your back! This week’s Trew 2 the Game podcast answers the question – “What if New Orleans did not win the Anthony Davis lottery?” Special guest: Micheal McNamara.

Stream the podcast right here at Bourbon Street Shots (look to the right!), right here on It’s New Orleans, Stitcher, or subscribe on iTunes.

And if you like the podcast, leave us a review, yeah?

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BSS Pelicans Off-Season Recap: Google Hangout Video Chat Tue, 28 Jul 2015 01:41:40 +0000 Jake joined me via Google Hangout to talk about the New Orleans Pelicans’ off-season, other fun NBA-related topics, and even Jake’s upcoming celebrity bartending gig at Tracey’s this Wednesday. Enjoy!

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On Conference Call With Anthony Davis Mon, 27 Jul 2015 16:07:02 +0000 Anthony Davis took 30 minutes out of his day to answer any and all questions from the media on everything from his contract to Monty’s departure, Gentry’s hiring, recruiting future free agents, and more. He was forthright in his answers and really didn’t hold anything back. More than anything, he sounded excited about the upcoming season and was universally optimistic about the direction that the team was heading. Davis spoke at length about a variety of subjects, including:

The Organization

– AD spoke several times about how much confidence he had in the organization and the direction that they were heading. Said he trusts their vision and feels comfortable with their plan.

– Said Monty still has nothing but great things to say about the organization, and understands it was a business decision.

– Said he wouldn’t have signed the full 5 year deal if he didn’t believe in the organization. Obviously he does believe in them.

Running It Back

– AD said he was told early in the process by Gentry that he loved the team as currently constructed and wanted to bring most of the guys back. Gentry seems to believe that the same team can be better with just a few adjustments and better health.

– AD talked several times about how the team has been building good chemistry these past few years and expects that to continue to grow this season. Was glad that the chemistry wasn’t disrupted this summer.

– AD said he has talked to almost everyone and they are excited about the pace they are going to play at and the defensive philosophy they will implement. Specifically mentioned how excited Omer Asik was about the new systems.

Gentry and the Coaching Staff

– AD talked about the NBA Finals shout out that Gentry gave to him and said it was exciting. Said that when he finally spoke to Gentry about it, Gentry actually believes it too. Believes they can get there.

– AD talked several times about Kevin Hanson and how he is glad to have him back. Said bringing back Fred Vinson was huge too because those two have been working with all of the guys and it is big to keep that continuity.

– Anthony Davis could not stop talking about Darren Erman, it seemed like. Even when a question had nothing to do with Erman, AD seemed to bring him up and stated multiple times that he was one of the best defensive coaches in the league. Said he already feels like he has learned so much from Erman in a short period of time.

– Said that the pace with Gentry is going to be “unbelievable” and that he was a hug fan of Gentry in Phoenix with Nash and Amare, along with what he has done recently in LA and Golden State.

Offseason Improvements

– In addition to his three-point shot, Davis said he was working on his ball handling, post moves and passing. Specifically, he said he wants to be able to take the ball off the defensive glass and push it up the court at times, like Draymond Green did in Golden State. Also, he said he has been working on his playmaking skills and how to read defenses so he can get teammates open looks – specifically when he gets doubled. He has been working on making passes out of double teams and even dribbling out of double teams to make plays for teammates.

– Davis said he is spending “15 to 20 minutes” every session working on defense. He has been working a lot with Erman on that end and we can expect a big jump from him there.

– Davis said that Monty even talked to him after the video of him working out in the gym surfaced and told him he was leaning a little bit on his 3’s. Davis laughed that Monty is still coaching him.

AD the Recruiter

– Davis said that he is not going to go to Vegas (Team USA) with the intention of telling guys they should come to New Orleans. But he did say that when the team starts winning and guys start seeing that, he expects guys to get in touch with him or Alvin or Dell. He thinks that, more than anything, will get guys interested in New Orleans.

– Davis said he hasn’t talked to Cole much about his contract situation, and that he will leave that up to Dell, but he would love to have him back. Said Cole, along with DC and Pondexter, really helped bring their defense to a new level last season.

Other Tidbits and Takeaways

– AD said that he thinks adding Kendrick Perkins will be big for the team, as he gives them a veteran leader who has been through a lot.

– Davis seemed to think Monty really handled the whole situation with class, and he is glad to see Monty got another gig with a good organization. Everyone has moved on, and Davis trusts the organizations decision.

– I just can’t get over how much AD talked about Erman. It should come as no surprise, because other players have praised his work ethic and knowledge in the past too. It might not happen right away, but if those two get to work together for the next few years, I would expect AD to rack up multiple DPOY awards.

– AD was excited — as excited as we see/hear AD get. He spoke in long, extended paragraphs about everything that happened this summer; Very different from his typical short answers. He spoke about the pace they expect to play at, and how much he expects their defense to improve. He spoke about how great it was to bring the same guys back and how excited each of those guys were about the direction the team was heading in. He was excited about Gentry telling him that he was going to get the ball more, and equally as excited about being a playmaker that will help make the game easier for his teammates.

Already one of the best players in the world, AD is working hard, he is excited, and has a coaching staff making him better each and every day.

Look out world.


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Dancing with Anthony Davis Sat, 25 Jul 2015 00:49:12 +0000 The MVP of the Crescent City, the richest man in a New Orleans jersey, the future dominator of hung banners in Champions Square, Anthony Davis, could have added another trophy to his case this Summer. From TMZ Sports via the talented basketball stable over at DimeMag, we learned today that Anthony Davis turned down an offer to be on Dancing With The Stars for a very good reason which is, he cannot dance (the full DimeMag post is here). The video, here:

The borderline-awkward ambush interview had other interesting tidbits from the Big Easy Basketball God, including

  1. Anthony Davis does not blow any of his money (Are you sure? Because I’ve got this idea for a movie where a transcendent basketball player and one of his biggest fans go on a road trip together…)
  2. Anthony Davis wants to invest in technology (…okay, cool, what if in the movie they go on a road trip to a technology conference and end up playing in a basketball tournament and save technology from destroying the planet?)
  3. Sometimes Anthony Davis does things just to have fun (Perfect, we’ll call the movie “Anthony Just Wants to Have Fun”)

Chris Trew is a comedian and Pelicans season ticket holder. He contributes to Bourbon Street Shots, podcasts every Tuesday, and performs comedy weekly at The New Movement.

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Where should the Pelicans D-League team be based? Wed, 22 Jul 2015 18:01:10 +0000 [Listen to the latest episode of the Trew 2 the Game podcast for a playful overreaction to the Kendrick Perkins signing plus more D-League chat]

The Fort Wayne Mad Ants are not only the D-League affiliate of the New Orleans Pelicans, they are also the affiliate for the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, and ten other franchises. I’m no development league specialist, but I know that being one of thirteen is not special. The Austin Spurs? That’s special. What’s stopping the Pelicans from going all San Antonio (metaphorically) and establishing a D-League affiliate down the (literal) road? Dell Demps got his general manager feet wet just an hour north of San Antonio for those Austin Spurs (previously known as the Toros) so you know that he knows the value of a good affiliate.

In fact, on a recent episode of NBA Lockdown Demps said the next step for the Pelicans is getting a D-League team to call their own and that the only thing stopping them from doing so a few years back was how young the team was. So what’s stopping us from speculating on the location for said team?

There are currently no D-League teams in the Gulf South and that’s a natural spot on the map to place our baby birds. It’s also an obvious choice to increase recognition of the brand, as the black and gold fleur-de-lis already covers bars and beach houses all along the Gulf Coast. Why not the Pelicans?

The Toronto Raptors are scoring their own D-League team that will simply be known as the “905 Raptors”, referring to the area code that covers a large swath of land in Ontario. The Pels could go a similar route, branding the team “Gulf Coast Pelicans” regardless of the exact location on the map. As far as exact locations go…

(2 hours west, hosted 2009 Training Camp for the New Orleans Hornets, has boudin)

Biloxi (90 minutes east, has a new minor league baseball team The Shuckers)

Gulf Shores (3 hours east, has beaches, every single person who grew up in New Orleans took at least one vacation to Gulf Shores)

Mobile (2 hours east, has New Orleans themed downtown, claims to have invented Mardi Gras which it kind of did but really Mobile, come on)

Baton Rouge (1 hour west or 6 hours west depending on traffic, people like Pistol Pete and Shaquille O’Neal and Bob Petti played there which is cool)

Lagniappe Choices 
Grand Isle 
(I want to see an arena built on big wooden logs stuck in the Gulf of Mexico)
Gulf of Mexico (just put the team in the middle of the Gulf and people can take cruises out to see them)
Mexico (The Pelican is the largest bird in Mexico so this is a No.Brainer.)

More Pelicans D-League speculation on the latest Trew 2 the Game podcast.

Chris Trew is a comedian and Pelicans season ticket holder. See him perform every Wednesday at 9:30p at the home for New Orleans comedy, The New Movement. Follow him on Instagram here.

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In the NO Podcast Ep. 223: Summer Time Mon, 20 Jul 2015 04:44:47 +0000 Summer league is done! Babbitt and Gee have been signed, Curry is a possibility, and most Non-Cole Summer moves seen over! Wait. That means no basketball stuff for 2 months?! It’s time for that Summer Time Sadness . . . Which is still better than Jimmer Time. Amiright or amiright?

Before we go for the summer, how does the Western Conference stack up now? Are the Pelicans a lock as a top 7 seed in the West? Will they feast on the Spurs and Grizzlies? Will I get any of the hip-hop questions Michael springs on me correct?

I’d say no. At least to the last question.

Enjoy the podcast!

Like the Show or the Blog?

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Trew 2 the Game: NBA Schedule Wish-List Wed, 15 Jul 2015 15:00:46 +0000 While the NBA schedule release doesn’t hold the same weight in New Orleans like the NFL schedule release does, it’s becoming increasingly interesting to Crescent City residents as we prepare for life-with-a-super-duper-star. Do we have a shot at playing the Warriors in Oakland on opening night? Are we in the running for a Christmas Day home game? How many times will our Pels appear on National Television? Local comedian, actor, and storyteller James Hamilton joins me on the latest Trew 2 the Game to fantasize about the possibilities.

Listen to the podcast (subscribe on iTunes and/or Stitcher!)


What are your schedule requests for the 2015-16 Pelicans season?

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The Marmoset as Anthony Davis Tue, 14 Jul 2015 17:55:08 +0000 Anthony Davis is the future of the NBA and the future of the NBA can do whatever he wants, including keeping a marmoset as a pet.

They are, however, not supposed to be kept as pets. From

  • Marmosets are wild animals and have very particular requirements
  • It is impossible to provide an environment as complex as in the wild
  • To avoid common health issues like bone disease, essential requirements include specialist diets and outdoor access (UV light)

Sounds like the perfect fit for Anthony Davis.

  • Anthony Davis is a wild basketball player and has a very particular skill set
  • It is impossible to provide a defense to contain him
  • To avoid common issues like getting posterized, essential requirements include refusing to guard him

In this video, the marmoset is Anthony Davis and this poor little dog is the rest of the NBA:

The marmoset is in complete control as the dog hopelessly tries to keep up. A soft bark has no chance of penetrating the marmosets concentration. Explosive moves up the sofa and back around to the filmmaker’s leg prevent the tiny white dog from getting close to a bite, which is exactly what we’re all looking forward to this year from Anthony Davis (the marmoset) and the rest of the NBA (the tiny white dog trying its best). Also, did you know marmosets can hit corner 3’s?

Chris Trew is a comedian and Pelicans season ticket holder living in New Orleans. Follow him on Twitter here.

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Where Dell Demps Can Find Value in the Marketplace Tue, 14 Jul 2015 13:03:38 +0000 On the surface, the signing of Alonzo Gee seemed like just another low risk move meant to improve depth at the end of the bench and maybe improve the locker room as well. And while it might turn out to be just that, it could also be an example of where Dell Demps can exploit the marketplace over the next couple of years, and where he can zig when others zag.

Shooting has become all the rage in the NBA, and rightfully so, as we have seen 3-point makes and takes trend upwards for nearly 20 years, and just this last postseason we saw the five top three-point shooting teams also become the last five left standing in the postseason. Because of that, shooters are getting drafted higher and paid more in free agency than they might have in past years, even if they don’t have many other skills to hang their hat on. Demure Carroll was the same defensive player 2 years ago, but the belief was that he couldn’t shoot a lick. He changed that perception in Atlanta. Two years ago, he signed a 2 year/6 million dollar deal to play with Atlanta. This offseason, he got 4 years and 60 million dollars from the Raptors.

The lesson here is that if you can get a guy who can shoot, do it. But those guys are getting paid, especially if they can do other things as well. If they can only shoot, you still have to pay them, but then you also have to make sure you have a roster that can cover up their weaknesses and/or lack of abilities. Dell Demps, however, is in a unique position where maybe he can pass on the high end shooters and concentrate on getting guys who are able to do other things well. Why can Demps afford to do that? Two reasons: Anthony Davis and Alvin Gentry.

In a fascinating piece published back in March, Stephen Shea proclaimed that Anthony Davis gets his teammates shots they don’t deserve. He found it puzzling that while most teams needed good ball movement to create open looks, New Orleans got open looks at a ridiculously high rate, and attributed that to one person – Anthony Davis. Shea shows several examples of Davis drawing an insane amount of attention, and his teammates reaping the benefits, and that again was with ball movement numbers (passes, time of possession per pace, etc) that was at the bottom of the league.

Davis got his teammates more open looks, and those looks are going to be converted more often – even by a below average shooter. Look no further than Quincy Pondexter, who had hit 28 of his previous 107 three-point attempts (26%) in the year and a half prior to joining the Pelicans. In the 45 games after joining the Pelicans, that percentage skyrocketed to 43% . In fact, Kirk Goldsberry had an interesting piece on Grantland this week in which he showcased another Grizzly, Vince Carter and the opposite effect joining Memphis had on him. Carter went from 40% on his spot-up 3’s in Dallas to 30% in Memphis. He didn’t learn how to shoot, he just had fewer open looks. Goldsberry goes on to say,

But here’s the thing about spot-up shooters: More than just about any other type of scorer, their performances depend on external factors. Even the best catch-and-shoot guys live and die by the ability of their teams to create the kinds of shots they thrive on; Tom Thibodeau’s Kyle Korver was a lot less scary than Mike Budenholzer’s version. Yet while there is no shortage of evidence to support this idea, there is a shortage of teams that are capable of generating wide-open catch-and-shoot looks beyond the arc on a regular basis. And every time a big-name spot-up guy switches uniforms, he and the team acquiring him are taking on all the risk that comes with changing a shooting environment.

What GM’s attempt to do is find a guy who was good at this skill before in another situation and hope that he does it as well in their situation. Often times, the results do not match from destination to destination. With Anthony Davis in tow, however, Dell Demps can afford to pluck below average or average shooters from a situation and has reason to believe they can perform better on his roster. Instead of going after the guys that everyone else wants, he can take the guys with other skills and assume that what others see as a weakness will be average at worst, and a strength at best in his system because of his once-in-a-generation talent.

And it is not just Davis who will get the Pelicans more open looks and more catch-and-shoot opportunities. With largely the same roster, the Warriors took 3 more catch-and-shoot three’s per game than they did the year before Gentry arrived. Their number of “wide open” three’s went up 11% according to It is no coincidence, then that the Warriors went from a team that shot 38% overall from deep to 40%. That seems minor, but when you take 25+ a game, that is a point and a half a game, and that makes a legitimate difference.

Now, let’s bring this all back to a guy like Alonzo Gee. Gee can be classified, at best, as an average three-point shooter. He has shot 33% on 509 attempts over his six year career. He takes a large portion from the corners (55% of his attempts, 75% in his last two seasons), and though it is a small sample size from last year, the data says he can make them when it is a catch-and-shoot (42%) and/or wide open (45%). The year before, both numbers were over 37%, despite his overall percentage being just 32.8%.

Again, maybe Gee takes off like Pondexter did or maybe he is just an end of bench guy who never really makes an impact. What he represents, however, is the type of player Dell Demps should be on the lookout for. And they don’t have to just be bargain basement guys, either. There are several wing players who are elite in a few areas but don’t get th top end contractss because they lack the one skill the whole league seems to covet. Dell should continue to be on the lookout for guys who are undervalued because of their lack of high level shooting.

Because the Pelicans have two components in place that can turn that weakness into a strength.

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A View from the Outside — Truehoop Mon, 13 Jul 2015 16:00:44 +0000 ((In order to give some perspective on the franchise from the outside, I had a short discussion with Eric Goldwein of Hoop 76. Eric is Hoop76’s founder and editor-in-chief. You can follow him on Twitter @ericgoldwein. His work has been featured on TrueHoop, the Slate/Deadspin NFL roundtable and Yahoo’s ThePostGame.))

Jason: Eric, our teams have some similarities. Relatively new ownership, recent rebuilding, some interesting talent. They are in different places on their rebuilding timelines, and the methods chosen are kind of opposed. The Pelicans trade picks, including to you, and you collect picks. The Pelicans are rebuilding quickly, the Sixes are exercising patience.

I’d like your thoughts on the Pelicans’ approach since they drafted Anthony Davis. Don’t be shy.

Eric: I understand the approach. New Orleans had to start winning to keep ownership happy, and make sure that Anthony Davis didn’t bolt. And that kinda worked! They made the playoffs in the Western Conference which is freakin’ hard. More importantly, they just signed Brow to a five-year extension. That’s a HUGE accomplishment.

Was spending big money on free agents, and coughing up future draft picks for borderline starters (and, gulp, damaged goods) the best way to get to this point? I don’t know. I’m not suggesting the Sixers “screw today, save for tomorrow” model. That wouldn’t have been feasible. But maybe when a talent like Nerlens Noel falls on your lap, you don’t trade him and a first-round pick for an average starting point guard on a not team-friendly deal? Or instead of giving up a 1st for a year of Omer Asik (and then signing him for $60M!), you try to find the next Omer Asik for a fraction of the price? Or perhaps, not trade for a pricey guard like Tyreke Evans?

I don’t know if it’s because of what management has done, or in spite of it, but Davis remains in New Orleans. As long as he’s there, the Pelicans will be in a good place. He’s that dominant. Think LeBron-Cleveland, Part I.

But there’s a reason LeBron left for Miami, and it’s because the Cavs were never able to get him the supporting cast that he needed to win a title. I worry that the Pelicans are headed in that same direction. Thanks to their moves of yesterday, they’re short on assets and cap space, hurting their chances of acquiring a second star. With a rising cap, there’s a good shot they can get a big name down the line, and keep Davis happy. (Recruiting pitch: come play with the best player on the planet. Sign here.) But had they been a little more patient, they’d have a lot more flexibility — right now and in the future.

Jason: I think you see a little more hope than some writers, at least in terms of supporting cast. That gives me a little encouragement.

Speaking of trading picks, we traded 2 to you for Jrue. Let’s ignore the nondisclosure thing, we don’t know enough about it. Assuming he’s of average NBA health going forward, based on your knowledge of him in Philly, how do you see him fitting with Davis and Gentry? Any other Jrue tidbits are welcome.

Eric: Well that’s the first I’m hearing about the stress frac– I mean, non-disclosure thing.

Anyways, if reasonably healthy — and that’s a big if — I see Jrue being a decent fit next to AD, in part because AD will make anyone look good. He’s a plus-defender and he’s smart enough offensively that he won’t hurt you.

That said, he’s not a good 3-point shooter and he doesn’t get to the line. If you’re a guard and you’re lacking in both of those areas, you better be damn good at other things. I’m not sure Jrue is. But the good news is he just turned 25 in June. He’s still got time to develop. Give Jrue a consistent 3-point shot and things will run a lot smoother. (And, he’ll demand a big raise as a free agent in 2017).

Jason: I’m a little higher on him than you, but I’ve got a soft spot for the scrappy, all-around types. David West is miles away my favorite player. At any rate, guards… Boy, do we have a few. Evans, Gordon, Holiday. Each has some issues, and it’s a glut of imperfect talent out of the wings. Does it seem to you the mix works, the Pelicans are hoarding assets, they are deluded, what?

Eric: “A glut of imperfect talent” is a perfect description, but there’s certainly enough there that it can work. Anderson is as good a big man shooter as there is. Davis might extend out to the 3-point line. Evans, Gordon, and Holiday have all shown flashes of all-star potential. Alvin Gentry has plenty to work with. Last year he helped turn Golden State’s offense into a juggernaut and it wouldn’t shock me if he did the same with this crew.

Jason: Thanks, Eric. I appreciate your candor. The NBA is watching both of these teams with interest. Win or lose, we’ve got something to talk about. I’ll check back in another time. Also, let us know when you come to town, we have some legit Philly places for you take shelter at, Tasteykake and all, like Stein’s Deli.

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Darren’s Detailed Defense Wed, 08 Jul 2015 16:31:05 +0000 The Pelicans had offense in mind when they hired Alvin Gentry. However, offense was not Gentry’s main concern when answering questions at his introductory press conference. When asked about what he needed to do in New Orleans to get a Pelicans Parade down Canal St. Gentry answered:

We have to become better from a defensive standpoint. We have to be … a very good defensive team that happens to be good offensively. That’s gonna be Darren [Erman] and his crew

That defense would be the main concern this offseason should be no surprise: the Pels finished the season in the bottom third of the league in defensive efficiency; and they might not have made the playoffs at all if not for the improvements on D in the 2nd half of the season that came with the additions of Cunningham, Pondexter, and Cole. Going forward the major improvements this team needs to make are on the defensive side of the ball. Just to illustrate, look at the competition:

contenders defensive improvement (ranking)

contenders defensive improvements (rtg)

(I threw out this past season for OKC as they didn’t make the playoffs for injury related reasons).

These teams all made the jump to home court advantage in the West by becoming good defensive teams. It is a must to be at the very least consistently capable on that end. The Pels could not say that this past season, and for them to contend they must improve on that side of the court.

The Pelicans don’t have all the defensive versatility of the Warriors, but they have a start. Holiday, Pondexter, Cunningham, Asik, and Davis are all plus defenders, bring back Cole and that’s one more, but there still is some depth issues on the wing. One problem is that Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon, who played 34 and 33 minutes a game on the wings this past season, have both been subpar defensively for the Pels. This is not for lack of trying by Gordon and not for Evans’ lack of physical capability. Getting the most out of both should be a top priority (obviously).

As McNamara wrote in his season review of Tyreke Evans, on the ball Tyreke is a good defender. In isolation, he only gave up 0.53 points per play, with opponents shooting 22.7% in those situations; that is fantastic. He has all the physical tools to be a good defender, strength and length and athleticism, so it isn’t surprising he bothered players 1 on 1. Off the ball is another story. He gets lost on rotations and was often late closing out on shooters.

Gordon’s issues are basically the opposite as they stem from a loss of athleticism due to injuries and surgeries. That, coupled with already being undersized, can’t really be fixed. Gordon will not be a great defender unless he can somehow manage to get some of that athleticism back, but Gordon isn’t a low IQ player and this past season he showed a real willingness to work on that side of the floor, which is normally enough to be at least an average defender.

In steps 40-year-old Darren Erman, ex-attorney with no playing experience turned basketball coach. Erman is very well respected around the league: any time his name comes up, so do the phrases “work ethic” and “detail oriented.” Rajon Rondo likened him to a “baby Thibodeau,” while claiming he’s certain to be a future head coach, a sentiment echoed by LA native Brandon Bass:

“It takes a special person to be focused all the time on defense, and it’s an offensive game. I think one day he will be a head coach.”

Erman is credited with the defensive improvements of players like Stephen Curry, who Mark Jackson used to hide on defense, Harrison Barnes, and specifically Klay Thompson, who is now considered one of the best two-way two-guards in the NBA.

Celtics Coach Brad Stevens couldn’t stop raving about him and how he works with players:

“[He’s] really excited to help these guys get better. And he spends a lot of time … with the individuals. That’s as big of a key right now as anything else. Darren’s really a great defensive coach, he’s more than that. I think sometimes we pigeon-hole guys because he’s obviously specialized in that. But he is detail-oriented as detail-oriented gets. If your hands aren’t in the right place as you’re guarding in a pick-and-roll, or if your body positioning is not at the right angle, or you don’t guard the post in the exact right way, he’ll stop it and he’ll correct it.”

If Erman can get both these guys to improve, specifically get Evans to at least average off the ball, the perimeter defense of this team should see dramatic improvement. Things are already trending up on the defensive end:

'13-'14 Pre-Allstar'13-'14 Post-Allstar'14-'15 Pre-Allstar'14-'15 Post-Allstar
Defensive Rating106109.5105.8102.8
League Rank26th26th25th18th

If that trend continues, look for the Pelicans to make a little more noise this season in the crowded West.

From 2007 to 2011 Darren Erman worked with the Boston Celtics under Doc Rivers and alongside Tom Thibodeau and Lawrence Frank, all great defensive minds. Boston had a 234-94 record (.713 W%) over those 4 seasons with defenses ranked 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 2nd in the league. His work ethic in game planning really paid dividends for Boston, as high IQ defenders Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo were able to identify opponents’ plays on a regular basis and shut them down. The defense was known for aggressive hedging, helping, and switching (similar to the Heat’s defense in the Lebron era). They wore down opponents physically and mentally and are remembered as a historically great defense.

In 2011 Mark Jackson hired him as an assistant for the Golden State Warriors.

“This guy gets it, really a great guy who wants to be a great coach. I pretty much hired him on the spot” – Mark Jackson

In Golden State he took a 26th ranked defense and improved it to above league average in one year, and then to 3rd in the league the next. Like Boston the team is known for aggressive switching and an aggressive pursuit of the ball, and the team is built perfectly for it: Thompson, Igoudala, Livingston, Green, Barnes, and even Holiday are all within the 6’6” – 6’8” size and can guard every wing position, and Green specifically can guard 1-4. Switching can stall offenses because it doesn’t give opponents the space to work with that is typically created by not switching and having guards fight over, under, and through screens. Golden State switches so fluidly on ball that they don’t give teams space, and so well off the ball that they avoid bad mismatches. Even though they do it a ton, Golden State almost never messes up a switch or misses a rotation, a testament to how much that team has grown together.

One thing that carried over from the Celtics to the Warriors was the impact of Erman’s game planning. Kent Bazemore credited Erman with their defensive improvement:

“We’re running other team’s prime plays and getting into certain spots and making sure they can’t have a fluid offense.”

Erman also knows how to work with the strengths of his team. Instead of an aggressive hedging style as was seen in Boston, where the bigs would “show” to stop dribble penetration and allow the small to recover, Erman convinced Jackson to change the defensive strategy all together in Golden State to where the bigs would sink, dropping in to protect the rim and contain the ball handler. This played to Center Andrew Bogut’s strengths, and the results speak for themselves.

After being fired in Golden State amid a controversy where he undermined his head coach, he was hired within a month back at Boston, where he spent this past season.

“Darren Erman got fired for secretly recording Mark Jackson, and teams are fighting over him. Think about that.” – Zach Lowe

Boston, with a very lackluster roster, improved from 18th in the league in defensive efficiency, to 12th, and was 9th for the 2nd half of the season. They improved 17 wins and won the 8th seed in the East. Everywhere this guy goes, major improvements follow, especially on the defensive side of the ball; that is a FACT. That’s why the Pelicans made sure he would come here before they even hired Gentry. For those questioning how much a coaching change can actually improve a team just look at this past season’s NBA Champions. Golden State was basically the same team as ’13-’14, but with a new entire coaching staff they improved 16 wins. If the Pelicans improve by half as much they’d be at 53 wins, which would have tied them with Cleveland for 7th best in the league last year.

This is the NBA. Offense can get you to the big show, but you need defense to win it. Darren Erman and the other assistants have their work cut out, but they do have some talent to work with.

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In the NO Podcast Ep. 222: Free Agency Wrap Up Mon, 06 Jul 2015 05:30:41 +0000 With most of the big moves already completed, Michael and I talk about what this off-season means to the team. Will Asik, Ajinca and Cunningham live up to their deals? Can we squee with joy over Anthony Davis resigning? What is a squee? What teams got better or worse in the conference? Plus, we answer some listener questions.

Enjoy the Cast!

Like the Show or the Blog?

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