The Scouting Report: New Orleans Pelicans
Projected starting line-up: Brian Roberts, Darius Miller, Tyreke Evans, Anthony Davis, Greg Stiemsma
Much like the picture above, Anthony Davis has the basketball world in his finger tips.
The Pelicans attempt to reload and make a playoff run was derailed by multiple injuries but that hasn’t stopped Davis from evolving into one of the league’s most terrifying players.
Zach Lowe’s most recent column on Grantland.com, conveniently enough, was on Anthony Davis and should be required reading. Lowe writes that there really is no comparison for Davis although many tried when he came into the league, as is usual with young NBA players:
Davis has murdered this parlor game. People around the league don’t know what to make of him anymore. They are just terrified, especially after having watched Davis average 30 points, 13.5 rebounds, and three blocks per game on 55 percent shooting over a 10-game stretch in March — a period during which he turned 21 freaking years old. He’s already fourth overall in Player Efficiency Rating, behind only LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kevin Love. His game has so many elements on both ends of the floor, it’s going to take years for the Pelicans to figure out the optimal uses and roster construction for him. It’s hard to decide what someone is best at when the answer might be “everything.”
When I asked Terry Stotts if he knew of any players that Davis reminded him of and he too found that there really is no comparison.
Davis is morphing into a one-of-a kind monster on both ends and Stotts said that in particular, Davis’ jumpshot is much more consistent.
He’s already a monster on the pick and roll, where he is a danger to fly to the rim on any given play. Lowe’s piece also notes that Davis’ playmaking is still a work in progress but Davis was a guard in high school until he had a major growth spurt, so perhaps with experience that will come.
Much like we saw with LaMarcus Aldridge’s development, passing and playmaking are things that can get better with time.
The Pelicans have struggled more so on the defensive end than anywhere else, even when they were healthy. They struggled defensively when they played Ryan Anderson and Davis together in the frontcourt but they were so good on offense that it was able to hide some of the deficiencies.
Anderson (done for the year), Jrue Holiday (done for the year), Eric Gordon (missed the last 7 games and is getting his knee examined in Los Angeles), Tyreke Evans and Davis have all missed their fair share of games due to injury and health has been the Pellies’ biggest shortcoming.
They signed Luke Babbitt (THE CHALUPACABRA RETURNS) from his Russian team to help make up for some of the floor-spacing they miss without Anderson but Babbitt’s presence wasn’t enough to give them any type of playoff push.
The Blazers beat the Pelicans without Aldridge in March behind a valiant 45-minute effort from Nicolas Batum and some big shots late by Damian Lillard. The key, as it almost always is for the Blazers, is for them to get a consistent defensive effort. Davis is a terror, but the Blazers should be able to keep the rest of the Pellies under control.
They really don’t have any excuses not to and with a win and a loss by Phoenix, Memphis or Dallas who all play tonight they can finally clinch the playoff spot they sought out to get at the beginning of the season.