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An Early Regular Season Look and a Theory

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Published: October 28, 2016

I think I think . . .

  • Davis never wavered. The headlines were stupid this summer about him taking a step back, as these were from some experts on things who were also inexpert on Davis. Remember, the fact that many . . . but not all . . . national writers have zero sources inside the Airline Drive facility frustrates them. Moreover, of those that do, there is a bit of managing that goes on. This can also be frustrating for all parties. It comes out. This is not a knock on anyone, and the job done by that Bensonites is a bang up one. It’s exactly what they should do. However, it’s important to know what you are reading. I and many others saw the killer Davis in preseason and knew it to be real. It just goes to show, they aren’t paying attention when their so-called evaluations of Davis change so quickly. They focus on clicks or ratings. Not everyone does.
  • When they do pay attention, it’s all just simple-minded, binary, and unrealistic thinking, because New Orleans’ situation isn’t worth the time. Just 50pts, good stat line, where was that 5th block, and he’s leaving or he needs help. OK, the 5th block one is me being cheeky. These guys just out themselves as ignorant of the facts. Some help, though maybe not enough in the minds of some is on the team . . . on the couch. Moreover, if Davis is going, it’s not via free agency in just under 5 years. That’d be just under 4 years because of the option, more likely. Then, he’d likely force a trade before that. I pointed this out after Davis’ rookie year. It’s not hard, it just takes some care. As readers, you need to discern why someone is writing to you. Basically, to inform you, to persuade you, or to entertain you or someone else. Entertaining themselves by persuading you to advertise for them is basically their goal if they’re spouting this nonsense. Save yourself the effort. Even if you never read this site again, there are great national and local writers who give actual information and analysis that is worth your while.
  • The game was informative. We saw some good . . . we saw some bad . . . we saw some other. The team lost, but the way they lost makes you think this team is not as disaster, though in its hobbled state it is also not a playoff team. Let’s see who they get back in, say, 2 weeks or so, before we declare the playoff hole too deep to dig out of. Players are coming back, and there is possible improvement from improving cohesion. Some of these early games are likely losses. Increasing those odds has less effect than messing up lots of games that are more in play. Denver was an example of that, which is unfortunate. I’d rather have all the Spurs, Cavs, Kerr-y’s this first couple weeks, go from there.
  • The players are waaay more than smart enough to know that, if they go 0-3, not all 0-3’s are the same. This 0-3, if it comes to pass, is not the worst 0-3.
  • The game was entertaining. Thanks to all.
  • I saw way too much complaining about the defense. As writers here have pointed out, like McNamara on In the N.O., there are clear things to project forward that can cause worry. This is justifiable. There is reason not to be happy. A justified minority opinion, and justifiably in the minority, is that the defense was good. I think there were stretches, particularly in the second half, where we saw the defense be what we all hoped it could be. Could this be a fluke? Yes. Might it fail to project forward? Yes. However, what we saw on the court Wednesday night was just fine. The stats and the eye-test both agree. Like above, anyone telling you the defensive performance was just bad, the same as it was before, etc., is simply telling you that they did not watch the game or that they do not understand what they are experiencing. Reflect on all their other errors, stop reading, stop giving them attention.
  • I have a theory about this season. We’ll see if the season supports it. I think the team is not so much trying to win win win or win now, whatever that means . . . I think this team is trying to feature Davis, both to other players, other personnel, and fans. Team needs to win enough in order to feature Davis to meaningful effect, and they need to win enough so that a prospective player feels like they can make the Pelicans better in a way that is mutually meaningful, not just better for the Pelicans. Davis is the very best ambassador for this franchise to anyone who values wins and who values top talent in some way. Bar none. This is obvious. By elevating him, by highlighting him, they advertise to free agents and personnel, “Look at what we got here.” They also advertise the same to fans, especially those who are set to buy tickets, gear, and watch the game on TV or listen on the radio (“They’re all on the radio.” — Sean Kelley). Also, Gentry’s pitch to get the job was based around featuring Davis in some sense. Just as “young vets” has been a consistent theme, despite people misunderstanding this somehow, featuring Davis may be a new motif. Also, this is not crazy, quite simply.
  • In this light, the team moves make sense. Davis is the only clear go-getter today. Hield may grow into that, and he may be what they are looking for, but maybe not. He should know it’s Davis’ team, and that makes a difference in team operations. Holiday will defer when needed, as he’s shown for years. Asik is known for not needing the ball, and he justifies not giving it to him regularly (I like him on the rebounds, though). Hill and the other acquisitions are not known for needing the ball a ton, and some, like Hill, not known for doing too well with it. This is negative or zero in the direct scoring benefit column, but it is a positive in the fit-with-Davis column. Most of those contracts are sized to move, and they’ll be more attractive, likely, as time goes on. Look for a different approach to getting that second banana, if it’s not Buddy, which it is not today. Lance and Tyreke may get theirs, but they will spend less time with Davis, and Davis does not play 48 minutes per 48 minutes on average. It’s not a question of eliminating all shots but Davis’; it’s a question of getting the right pieces around to accomplish their goal, and the goal is a show. If Stephenson can put on a positive show . . . Stephenson is useful. Same for Evans.

Check out Nick’s piece on Hill. Not only does he do a great job of pointing out some ways to look at Hill in context, some of what he says butts right up to this theory nicely. He also raises a nice point about the contract, and that is: it’s done. We’ve heard good and bad points about sunk costs and possible failure to properly consider this. Hill’s contract is a sunk cost. It does not enter in to how good of a player he is on this roster. It might affect evaluation of who gave it (Dell), and it might factor into comparisons to properly couched “road not taken” scenarios, but it does not affect evaluation of Hill himself. Likewise, Buddy should never be judged because of his draft position. The people who drafted him or chose not to draft him can be judged, but not him. Goose, gander.

I’m not sure wins or losses against the next 2 teams tell us anything, because wins would be flukes in some way. How they play matters for predictive purposes (in context), but the end result is largely meaningless for those same predictive purposes.

Have fun at the game. It’s ok to enjoy good basketball from the opponents, and that is part of the benefit of having an NBA team here. Still, root for the home crowd if you can.

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