Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans
Smoothie King Center
5:00 p.m. PST
March 26, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
1. True or false: Anthony Davis is a top-seven player right now.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): False. But it’s pretty darn close. Davis is still learning how to move defensively, and on offense, his handle and his shooting aren’t all the way there. But at some point – maybe next year – Davis is going to propel himself into the top-three discussion with LeBron James and Kevin Durant, and he likely won’t stop improving from there.
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): He’s probably top 10. If you had an all-NBA reset button and every current active player could be drafted today, I think Davis would be the second pick behind only Kevin Durant. That’s not to say he’s better than Lebron James, today, just that he’s so good and so young. He’s maybe behind the likes of Durant, James, Paul, Griffin, Marc Gasol, Westbrook, Love, and a few others right now, but the Davis era is fast approaching — we’ll call it “Basketball A.D.”
Luke Laubhan, (@lukelaubhan): Davis is 11th in the league in scoring (21.8), ninth in rebounding (10.5), first in blocks (2.9), and he’s got the fourth-highest PER (27.23). He’s shooting 53 percent from the field and darn near 80 percent from the line. That’s great, but he’s not better than LeBron, KD, Chris Paul, or Paul George. He’s probably at or near the top of the next tier, though: Blake, Westbrook, Kevin Love, and some others. So, uh, yeah. Top-seven. Yikes.
2. What the heck has happened to Tyreke Evans in March?
Katz: He got playing time. And he took off. In 12 games since Monty Williams named him starter, Evans is shooting 55 percent from the field and 41 percent from three. He’s scoring 21.8 points per game. He’s pulling down rebounds and assisting at rates above his career average. As a bench player, Evans was in an uncomfortable role, playing so much small forward and acting as a weird sort of instant offense guy. Now, he can get back to what he’s used to doing.
James: He’s playing 38 minutes per game in March, whereas he hadn’t averaged more than 26 minutes a game for any previous month. He’s also converting at the hoop, shooting nearly 64 percent in the restricted area in March compared to 52 percent for the year. Anyone who’s seen his flashes of brilliance over the years knows that Reke looks best when he gets to the rim. He’s doing that now.
Laubhan: He became a starter. We all knew the backcourt would be a bit clunky for the Pelicans this season, what with Jrue Holiday and Evans joining up with our old pal, Eric Gordon. We didn’t know it was going to take this long for them to figure it out. No matter. What time and Monty Williams couldn’t do, the injury gods have done. Tyreke is averaging 22.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 5.8 assists as a starter on the season, and all is right in the world.
3. True or false: Monty Williams will be the coach of the Pelicans next season.
Katz: True. Williams has a contract that goes for another few years, and considering how hampered this team has been by injuries all year (Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday, Jason Smith), the Pelicans never really had a chance at all. On top of that, it’s not like a center-less, somewhat nonsensical roster is a preferable one for a coach.
James: Monty Williams is under contract through the 2015-16 season, and his team hasn’t actually been that bad, considering the injuries to Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson. Knowing nothing about the palace intrigue that may or may not be happening behind the scenes in New Orleans, I’d say Williams gets a shot to lead a healthy team next year.
Laubhan: True. I think he gets one more season to see what he can do with a healthy roster and an improved and more seasoned AD. On the one hand, Williams seems to lack the in-game sophistication top coaches possess, and his lineups are questionable; in that sense, he’s Vinny Del Negro with more pizazz. Then again, the state of the roster isn’t doing him any favors, and the Pelicans aren’t contenders next season anyway. So, he gets another shot.