While you were looking at Dwight Howard or Derrick Rose this preseason, the New Orleans Pelicans put together a nice little 7-1 record.
Then on opening night the Pelicans had a 16-point second half lead against the contending Pacers, a lead the more experienced Pacers were able to make evaporate behind some strong play from Paul George. Still, the Pelicans looked good.
Anthony Davis isn’t surprised his team could do all that — he liked what he saw in the preseason, he told ProBasketballTalk. The talent is there — over the summer New Orleans added an All-Star point guard in Jrue Holiday, former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, and big man Greg Stiemsma to a lineup that already had Eric Gordon and Davis (when they were healthy).
There is potential there if this group can come together.
“That’s why we took preseason so serious, you know, because we’re a very new team — Tyreke, Jrue, Greg, Jeff (Withey), Anthony Morrow — so we definitely a new team,” Davis told ProBasketballTalk. “And that’s why we had to take preseason serious — nobody had played with each other. It was a totally different thing than last year.
“I think things are coming along well. We’re getting to know the system pretty well and we’re going to be fine. I think if we continue to work hard, trust in the system, trust in each other then I think we really have a chance.”
A chance at the playoffs?
“It’s be nice, but if we get there we get there,” Davis said. “If we don’t we don’t we figure out why we didn’t get there, what happened, and fix that.”
The team is still bonding, growing together, doing it over things like dinners on the road, and playing NBA 2K14.
So who is the best 2K player on the Pelicans?
“Tyreke claims he is, but I highly doubt it,” Davis said, picking himself.
He adds that seeing himself in the game, especially 2K14 with the next gen gameplay, is still surreal.
“I still play 2K all the time, playing with all the stars you look up to — LeBron (James), Kobe (Bryant), ‘Melo (Carmelo Anthony), Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, everybody you look up to and see on the cover — then me with 2K13 and 2K14 I’m playing with these guys and against these guys and it’s crazy to see yourself on the game,” Davis said. “The first time you play a 2K game you go to create a player and you create yourself, just so you can be in the game and see how you jell with the other players and stuff like that. And now when you buy the game I’m already on it.”
Davis flew under the radar last season, as much as the No. 1 overall pick who is considered a franchise changer can. He had injuries, Damian Lillard got hot and the focus of the basketball world was not New Orleans. Still he showed a very smart game, an ability to finish at the rim and draw fouls, which led to a very good 55.8 true shooting percentage.
If you watched him last season then saw him in this preseason and on opening night, you see a much improved offensive player. His face-up game got a lot better; he is more comfortable and aggressive with it and with his midrange jumper (which still needs to find its range).
That’s not an accident, he worked on it.
“I definitely have, trying to get better as a player, working on that midrange game, things in the post, that’s a couple of things I’ve been focusing on this offseason,” Davis said. “Hopefully 2K seen that and put it on the game so I can have that as one of the things I can do. That will help my rating as well.”
Got to love he wants a better rating for his work. He’s still a kid at heart… just one that is a very good basketball player who could someday lead a deeper Pelicans team a long way.