Take Aways from 2016 New Orleans Pelicans Media Day

By:
Published: September 26, 2016

The New Orleans Pelicans held their media day this past Friday at the Smoothie King Center. As the team gears up for its first preseason game let’s look at some of the biggest take aways from everything that was said.

Anthony Davis

Everything starts and ends with the Pelicans’ franchise player. And for the first time in his career, Davis might end the season healthy. Davis, as he has every year, looks notably more muscular and seems recovered from offseason surgery. The Pelicans plan to limit him in preseason and training camp, but Davis said he’ll be ready for two-a-days and said, “I feel like I can withstand an 82-game season right now.”

After all the injury news from last season, and the fact that Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter won’t be ready for the start of the season, just hearing Davis say those words is a nice change.

The another theme with Davis was leadership. Both Dell Demps and Alvin Gentry said this is Davis’ team. Davis himself seemed more confidant at the podium than any other time I’ve seen him, and ready to take charge of this team. Maybe he’s heard the national criticism that Davis isn’t much of a vocal leader. Maybe it was Gentry lighting a fire under him during a timeout in January’s game at Dallas. But my take is that the now departed Kendrick Perkins is still having his influence felt on this team.

The final, not shocking, but a minor bit surprising, was Davis saying Demps consults with him on potential acquisitions. Not only that but it sounds as if his opinion carries significant weight. Davis said Demps comes to him and based on what Davis said decides to go ahead or not.

Like I said, nothing surprising. This is the case for almost every star player and his team in the league. It’s one of the ways of making them happy, and right now, with the clock ticking on the Pelicans, it is what they should be doing.

“The Process”

Buzzword of the decade in the NBA thanks to the 76ers, and something said multiple times by Demps. However, I don’t think this was used in the same way as Sam Hinkie.

You’ve heard that drafting Davis accelerated the Pelicans rebuilding as they felt he’d contribute sooner than most NBA rookies. This led to the widely talked about ‘young veteran’ strategy.

And nothing has really changed. Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Omer Asik in previous years. E’twaun Moore, Solomon Hill, Terrence Jones, Langston Galloway now. The plan is the same; the names of the players are a bit different. The style of play is a bit more versatile. But the overall philosophy and strategy of building this team is the same.

Injuries and the Medical Staff

You’ve heard it by now, and I mentioned it earlier that Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter will not be ready for the start of the season. Demos mentioned November as an early return date, but followed up by saying December/January is much more realistic.

I’ve defended the medical staff before saying it isn’t on them for injuries that occur in game (Eric Gordon breaking his finger, Holiday getting elbowed in the face). But with Demps saying Asik wasn’t healthy at all last season, there are valid questions to be asked about what goes on behind the scenes on Airline Drive.

Demps has said they evaluate the medical staff top to bottom and have studied other organizations and aim to emulate that. He also said they place a lot of focus on injury prevention. But as I said before, certain injuries are just freak things. Prevention isn’t the concern. Recovery is. And with Pondexter now out for 16 months, more questions remain.

Competition

Outside of a guy like Davis, it sounds as if there is going to be a lot of competition for playing time in training camp and preseason.

Alexis Ajinca was particularly feisty, saying “I will be a starter this year. You’ll see.” Many have penciled in Omer Asik as the Pelicans starting center, but Ajinca seems to think he has a good crack at the job. Working with a trainer on running is a good step in that direction for a fast-paced Gentry offense.

Lance Stephenson said he knew nothing was promised to him and plans to come in and compete. When you think about how well established of an NBA player Stephenson is, and he redeemed himself in Memphis quite well at the end of last season, it shows how wide open things could be on the latter end of the Pelicans rotation.

Potential Protests

Demps, Gentry, and almost all of the players touched on recent protests and social issues. The message that came across was loud and clear: Actions speak louder than words.

All players who were asked said it’s about the impact they can make. Davis, himself, saying, “It’s not necessarily about speaking up. I mean, people always say actions speak louder than words. You can say whatever, but if you don’t do anything to prove that you’re actually doing what you’re speaking, it means nothing.”

I’m guessing you’ll see the Pelicans partnering with local law enforcement this season in effort to make changes throughout the community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.