And oh boy, was I wrong about this one.
Easily the saddest story of the entire season so far has to be Anthony Davis’s fall from a preseason MVP favorite to a Sisyphean laborer, trying to drag a skeleton crew of sad sacks and broken bodies to their first win of the season. (!!!) Yes, that’s right. AD is putting up a career high 43 points and this team is still 0-6.
They’re not really set to get all that much better either. Sure, Tyreke Evans was pretty big for this team last year operating as a kind of hybrid ball-handling forward and allowing Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon to spot up for threes. They should also be getting Omer Asik back fairly soon who should provide some stout interior defense and allow Davis to play more at his natural power forward position. Norris Cole will also be back, giving the Pellies even more defense on the perimeter and a much better backup for Holiday (who really isn’t supposed to be playing more than 20 minutes per game anyway) than either Toney Douglas or Mr. Bounce Around the League, Ish Smith.
The problem is that none of those guys are really more than league average at their positions. Asik is the kind of offensive liability who can’t even jump up and catch a lob pass, let alone make a jump shot. Tyreke is a nightmare shooter from 3, and of course there must have been a reason why Norris Cole was never able to win that starting job from Mario Chalmers in Miami. I guess it’s also unfair to sleep on Quincy Pondexter, who was this team’s best two way player on the wing last year and will get to force Alonzo Gee and Luke Babbit’s hair (I know, I know, he cut it) so far down the bench that Pelicans fans will hopefully never have to see them outside of 4th quarter blow outs.
I don’t want to understate how important the change is to go from garbage to just mediocre, perfectly fine players, but even with all of that, I can’t believe a team with Anthony Freaking Davis on it has yet to win a single game. Yes, two of those six contests were against the supernova Golden State Warriors but this team also got smoked by Portland and lost to the Orlando Magic at home by close to double digits. We can talk all we want about new head coach Alvin Gentry’s up-tempo style and the fact that Davis is suddenly shooting 36% from three on 2 and a half attempts per game, but none of that really matters if this team doesn’t start stringing wins together. It’s almost cliche to mention now how much of a slaughterhouse the Western Conference is, but this team is in absolute dead last (behind the Kings and Lakers) and will have a seriously difficult time making the playoffs if they don’t start putting together wins on the pace of a 58/59 win team.
Again, I just have to feel terrible for Davis. The guy is a monster by any kind of eyetest or advanced metric you want to use, easily one of the three or four best players in the league, and was set to have a massive coaching upgrade this season, not only with Gentry but on their new defensive hire Darren Erman as well. This team still likely wouldn’t have made it out of the first round, but they could’ve taken a big step forward on defense as well after being only 22nd in the league last year. Now, with all the feel good vibes and enthusiasm of the preseason (I was more than guilty of that as well) quickly melting into toxic slime, the Pelicans are staring in the face of what could be a lost season. And boy that is just rough.
ON TO THE TOP 5!!