I know what you are thinking. You hear number one and think LeBron James or Kevin Durant don’t play in New Orleans. Well, neither does Steph Curry while we’re on the subject. However, the keyword is future because LeBron is on the north side of thirty. KD and Steph aren’t that far away. So the present resides in Cleveland and Golden State. Sorry, Oklahoma City.
However, the future of this league may just live in New Orleans. Most NBA experts will tell you that the 23-year-old Anthony Davis just might be the NBA’s future number one player. The number one selection of the New Orleans Hornets in 2012, Davis is a six foot eleven, forward/center from who led Kentucky to a national championship.
Now flash forward to the present day. The NCAA Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player (2012) and Consensus National Player of the year has been a shinning star for the newly named New Orleans Pelicans. Davis has been a 3-time NBA All-Star. Not to mention has racked up accolades like All-NBA first team (2015), NBA All-Defensive second team (2015), and two-time NBA Blocks Leader (2014, 2015). Davis also has an uncanny ability to throw up half a hundred on any given night. Just ask the Denver Nuggets on the NBA’s opening night.
On top of that, Davis just signed a 5-year extension to stay in New Orleans for the foreseeable future. You would think the present, not to mention the future, would be bright for Davis and Pelicans fans. Unfortunately, New Orleans has managed just one playoff appearance since Davis’ arrival, being a first round exit to the soon to be World Champion Golden State Warriors. Davis’ experience with the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans has been a losing one. The 2016-2017 Pelicans are already off to a 1-8 start. If you feel like you heard this before, that is because they did the same thing last year.
You might be asking yourself, how does something like this happen? Folks, in my experience it is always these two words, BAD MANAGEMENT. Unfortunately, the Pelicans have had a lot of it, from being owned by the NBA for awhile to the Benson family feud. In case you haven’t heard, Ton Benson’s family has challenged the owner’s mental state. This doesn’t actually allow for a lot of stability.
Especially, since (in my humble opinion) Dell Demps is one of the worst general managers in the NBA. Demps won a power struggle with former head coach, Monty Williams. Williams was fired at the end of the only playoff season. Generally, you don’t fire a coach after a playoff season. You also don’t generally, throw away first round draft picks on injured or old players. Dell Demps likes to do that, too. Demps gave up a first round pick, Nerlens Noel, an athletic defensive center from Kentucky of all places. Noel would have been a nice compliment by filling the center position that would allow Davis to move to forward.
Unfortunately, Noel ended up in Philadelphia. Jrue Holiday, a talented guard, who is often injured, ended up in New Orleans. Demps didn’t do his homework on Holiday, who was damaged goods before he left Philadelphia. That didn’t stop Demps from giving up another first round pick for Omare Asik, an average center Houston was looking to dump. Asik has struggled to stay healthy. When healthy, he has struggled to find playing time. These picks should have been the base of a young Pelicans squad led by Davis.
Instead, you have an older and injured squad led by a journeyman coach, Alvin Gentry. Gentry the architect to both horrible starts. Gentry runs a wide open three point shooting offense with not a lot of defense. Let me clarify: by not a lot, I mean no defense at all. Gentry fired from Detroit Pistons, L.A. Clippers, and Phoenix Suns. So of course, Dell Demps thought this 3 time loser of a coach, who wants to shoot a lot of threes, was the right coach to put with a six foot eleven forward/center and an aging roster. Gentry has been unable to bring the success that he had as an assistant coach for the world champion Golden State Warriors. Demps wasn’t able to realize that Gentry’s offense features Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
Possibly the best back court in NBA history. New Orleans has struggled to fill its guard positions with adequate personnel and is constantly being outscored by other offenses. Davis, though great, is not a natural three point shooter. This system simply doesn’t suit Davis or his aging cast. Major changes need to be made in the front office and on the court in order to ensure Davis’ time in New Orleans is not being wasted. If not, in the immortal words of the late great Dusty Rhodes, HARD TIMES are ahead.
Davis has four more years on his contract after this season.
Danny Ferry, former general manager for the Atlanta Hawks, has been added as an advisor for Demps. Ferry knows talent after building a consistent playoff contender in Atlanta. A young athletic roster.
Gentry is not a good head coach. System doesn’t seem to win consistently without Curry, Thompson, or Nash.
Demps is one of the worst GMs in pro sports. He wants to throw away draft picks to win now with expensive veterans and injured players.
5 years go by fast. I can assure you Davis won’t re-sign if you continue to waste his time. Nobody wants to put up 50 points and still lose. If Demps and Gentry are not fired, this team will be looking for a new star in five years.