Media Day: Everything’s Gravy

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Published: September 29, 2015

It’s good to be back.  Fall is upon us and that means basketball is back and ready to rock your world.

Media Day is very often a lot of fluff–Player X worked on Skill X this summer, Player Y did that.  It’s what should be expected and any deviation from the fluff is usually a bad sign.  There wasn’t anything bad at Pelicans Media Day.  The players seemed happy, the media seemed happy, and the team almost went for my idea for a player/media ice cream social afterwards.

For me, Media Day is about finding themes–what the team stresses, what the players stress.  And there are always themes.  Some are scripted and some are not, but being one or the other does not make a theme true or untrue.  It’s just easy to spot the themes, some of which I have emboldened

Dell

  • Would not commit to when Jrue Holiday would be back playing 30 minutes again.  He emphasized how they are being cautious with Jrue–they do not want to rush him back and make things worse.
  • Says they have to improve defense (staff and player theme) and that they want to compete for a championship.  Expects to make the playoffs and wants to get past the first round.  Improving defense is the focus.
  • Was asked about playing small in a league that is moving towards quickness and playing small. Said that he thinks the team is capable of playing small and big as well.
  • Thinks Perkins’ contributions will be hard to measure because he brings things on and off the court.  Mentioned his post defense as a plus.
  • Is excited to see Gordon catch the ball on the move and attack.  He thinks Gordon will benefit from the increased offensive movement.  I agree and I think that Gordon will be a pivotal piece to a starting lineup that only projects to have one 3 pt shooter (him) until Quincy Pondexter comes back.  I have some worries about the projected starting lineup’s spacing, but maybe this is something that they will notice or overcome in preseason.
  • Says Alvin Gentry was “very involved” in the decision to keep our players from last year.
  • Embraces the expectations that are being placed on this team.  The pressure of being expected to be good is “what you want.”
  • Likes the team’s depth. Staff theme
  • Rocked a summer beard.  Suave.

Alvin Gentry

  • Has lived in a lot of places, but says New Orleans is the most unique.
  • Thinks the uptempo system will benefit the players
  • Says Tyreke will mostly be a point guard, especially early on (before Jrue returns to full minutes load).  Tyreke will play a couple other positions as well.
  • Likes the team’s depth.
  • Loved the energy in the Smoothie King Center during the playoff run (which he experienced as an opposing coach).
  • Sensed how good this team could be as they fought tooth and nail with the best team in the NBA (the Warriors).
  • Is excited about continuity. Staff and player theme
  • Thinks AD’s added strength should help him hold his position on defense.
  • Need to improve the defense.  “You can’t run if you’re grabbing the ball out of the basket.” Amen.

Anthony Davis

  • Anthony Davis is back and more confident than before, something that several players mentioned in the interview.  I asked him what his go-to post move was, and he responded, “Score the basketball,” which is good, because I’ve always liked that move.  He was the only player to have his own media Q&A in the press room rather than the gym.  I guess he’s a big deal.
  • Says he will take some corner 3s but will do the majority of his work on the block and from the elbows.  No surprise there.
  • His new tattoo is for his grandfather.
  • Loves the energy Darren Erman brings on defense–says that it’s easy to get excited about defense when Erman is so excited about it. Player and staff theme
  • Also loves how defense is being simplified. Player theme
  • Has been working on closeouts, staying low, not biting on pump fakes.

Other Player Notes

  • Everyone raved about the changes that Darren Erman is bringing to the defense.  They said he is simplifying things for the players so they will know exactly where to be.  They believe it will make a difference.
  • Tyreke mentioned that he is happy to be working in the post again (he did some work there in Sacramento).  Mentioned mismatches that can be created there.
  • Ryan Anderson lost weight this season and feels great.  He said that he wants to improve his defense and that the weight loss should help in that area.  He also mentioned that he has been working on sliding and closeouts.  I expect Ryno to be gunning this year in a faster-paced system.  Not that he ever wasn’t gunning, but I’m so excited for him this season.
  • Dante Cunningham thinks this will be a top 3 defense.  If that’s true, and the offense can be top 10, this would be an elite team.  We will see–becoming a top 3 defense would be a huge jump.  Proceed with caution.
  • Cunningham says playing the 3 on defense is exhausting, as you are literally covering the whole court and often running through multiple screens to chase shooters.  Given Cunningham’s consistent effort/excellent conditioning, I’m not too concerned.  His favorite position is “on the court.”
  • Gordon is excited to play in an uptempo system like he did in Los Angeles.
  • Omer Asik is practicing without limitations.  He is healthy.  Asik encountered some problems with back spasms this summer.  The back spasms worry me, so good to see him healthy.
  • Asik also voiced that he believes that this defense could be very good.
  • Ajinca honestly didn’t know where he’d wind up this summer, but wanted to come back and is glad to have re-signed with the Pelicans.
  • Ajinca doesn’t think many 7’2 centers are as equipped to run the floor as he is (in a fast-paced system like Gentry’s).  Thinks that could be an advantage for him.
  • Pondexter thinks last year’s playoff experience against the Warriors will serve as valuable experience moving forward.
  • Pondexter doesn’t know what caused his 3 pt shooting percentage jump with the Pelicans, but is confident in his shooting ability and expects to keep knocking down shots.
  • Norris Cole said that he is excited to be here.  Which you’d expect him to say, but he was bouncing around all over the facility all day with a smile on his face.  So I’ll take his word for it.

 

I’m sure that I missed some nuggets here and there, but thought Erman’s energy/defensive knowledge, Gentry’s uptempo system, continuity, and a focus on improving the defense were the major themes of the day.

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