An Early Preseason Look

Published: October 2, 2016

We’ve seen an offseason, a little camp, some drama, and sort of saw a game waaay up North.

  • Davis is just as killer as we thought, and maybe more now that he’s going to be “fixed.” The shoulder thing was an issue for a while, and he carried other stuff. Nice to see him get the maintenance. I do hope we’re past the days of pretending that every second of activity during a game is soooo meaningful for a player’s health while those with their faces pressed too close to the meaningless details miss the meaningful minutes in practice and more.
  • I’m very much looking forward to Jrue coming back when it’s best for him to come back. Easily my favorite Pelican these days. I still love David West, of course. Hey, David!
  • I don’t see the big problem with Lance Stephenson. I think a common misinterpretation has been that this team has undergone and stylistic and cultural revolution, with the style being towards pace and offense . . . with defensive players . . . ahem . . . I disagree. Of course I would disagree, right? I’ve said before I think the players were chosen for defense and versatility. I expect offense to come as a product of the system, but I expect smart basketball that is not super-high-paced. I hope I am not wrong here, but it’s possible, I admit, that this is exactly what is wanted as the brand of basketball to sell. However, I just don’t think this is what we’ll see wall-to-wall. I think we’ll see some fast games and some fast parts of games, but I also think we’ll see some slow, tough games. Pace will generate stats for Davis, and that is important in the grand scheme, so I don’t expect a plodding team, but I expect the pace to come from quick decisions and some transition game, not high footspeed across the board. Stephenson fits the bill here with his defense. If he gets to run wild on the second unit, so be it. That might be the best thing to do: as long as the team is playing smart basketball as a whole. Letting the beast run wild a little might be just what is needed to make it all work, to get the buy-in when it counts.
  • Some also anticipated or even posited a cultural shift toward high character guys. I think is often taken to be “swell fellas” in the “Leave it to Beaver” sense. I, again, disagree. They want good soldiers, metaphorically speaking. They want guys who will work when it’s time to work. That’s work out when it’s time to work out, even with no one watching, not snack when it’s time to not snack, study film when it’s time to study film, guard the guy assigned, etc. This is more often found is players who are “looking to get in” rather than players who “are in.” There are may consummate professionals in the NBA, but there are some that are not, or at least have lapses. The Pelicans gave out a number of contracts to incumbent player last season or prior, and their work ethic really seemed to show a slip after that contract. Now, isn’t it possible these recently signed players will have the same issues? Yes, absolutely. However, these were not incumbent players who got the higher dollar contracts. I’ll trust that they made good judgments on these guys who were on the open market, not a restricted market, and who were possibly underrated, at least until proven otherwise. Their track record for these players has been fine, at least in terms of work ethic. Again, I think Lance can fit here. If he’s lasted this long, I expect him to be on the roster. If I’m wrong, so be it.
  • Terrance Jones. It was just a game, but concerns about him were never his real talent. It’s been his character, which I think has been judged a bit too harshly, at least in terms of how it affects play . . . I’ll let others judge him in other respects . . . injury, again, too harsh, and just keeping his head on straight. I think this last item is the one to keep an eye on. No level of play is going to ensure he keeps his focus and confidence, but games like that against (I hate) the Mavericks can’t hurt, at least in isolation. His skills packaged in his body make him something to keep an eye on.
  • 10 Pelicans saw minutes in the first quarter. 11 played at least 12 minutes, and Anthony Davis played nearly that. Preseason minutes are meant to be used in part in experiments. With Jrue out, any continuity is at best close to useless and may be harmful. So, why not tinker? Isn’t that the best way to “play the minutes game” in this particular circumstance?
  • It’s just one game, just one (likely highly structured) media day, just one week of camp, but it really looks like the passing and perimeter defense (and defense overall) have been taken seriously. How well they’ve been actually addressed time will tell, but it may very well come to pass that Demps and Gentry end up causing some slow and subtle 180’s in Pelicans nation.

Let’s see what we see this week.

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