Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans
Smoothie King Center
5:00 p.m. PST
February 24, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
1. True or false: Anthony Davis will, at some point in his career, be the best player in the NBA.
Joe Gerrity, Bourbon Street Shots, (@GerrityJoe): True. He’s 20 years old and is leading the league in blocks and steals while averaging 20 and 10. On defense, he’s still struggling with his rotations and relative lack of muscle mass, but give him two years, and he’ll be one of the five best players on each end of the court. In five years, he’ll really enter the conversation for league’s best player, and I expect he’ll top ESPN’s #NBArank shortly afterward.
Michael Shagrin, (@mshaggy): True. Oftentimes we can get a sense of a player’s ceiling by comparing them to their forerunners. Blake to Karl Malone. Kobe to MJ. Carmelo to Bernard King. But every once in a while, we stumble upon a man who defies historical narrative, who has no clear antecedent in basketball history. His potential is limitless, unshackled to predetermined ideas about the relationship between size and skill. Lebron James and Kevin Durant are undoubtedly part of this category and, in his short NBA career, it seems Anthony Davis is too.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): Beyond true. Guaranteed. I’d bet my left ear on it. I’d even throw in somewhere between two and four of my fingers (as long as I get to keep my thumbs). This is happening. Eventually, LeBron James will pass his prime. So will Kevin Durant. And that’s when Davis, who is only 20 years old now, jumps to the top of the list.
2. Is there a way for the Clippers to remedy their lack of bench scoring in the short term?
Gerrity: Sort of. Glen Davis should help a bit, but he’s hardly the volume scorer that can keep a second unit afloat offensively for 10 or 15 minutes a game. In theory Hedo might have something left in the tank, but it’s looking less and less likely he can make any sort of consistent impact.
Shagrin: Sure, bring Jamal Crawford in as the sixth man. But without J.J. Redick, Crawford’s absence among the starters would expose the first unit’s severe lack of perimeter punch. Alternatively, as Zach Lowe wrote this morning over at Grantland, the addition of Big Baby Davis should add some nice stretch to the bench squad. Given Davis’ inability to get more than a couple inches off the ground, he likes to pop to the midrange when involved in the pick and roll. To some extent, his presence should open up a clogged interior when he’s paired with close-range scorers like DeAndre Jordan and Ryan Hollins.
Katz: Big Baby? Can Large Infant come in and add some scoring off the bench with his mid-range heavy game? Maybe. Can the Clippers bring in a Danny Granger or Ben Gordon type? Possibly. Ultimately, though, the Clips may not have any sort of offensive fire power off the bench until J.J. Redick comes back from injury, and Jamal Crawford returns to his more appropriate bench role. That is, unless Doc Rivers decides to switch Jared Dudley back into the starting lineup for Matt Barnes.
3. Why has Tyreke Evans not worked in New Orleans?
Gerrity: Coaching seems like the obvious reason, with injuries coming in not too far behind. In San Antonio, they tend to pick up a player and use him in situations where his talents are maximized and deficiencies hidden. It seems more like Monty draws up an idealistic game plan and then tries to fit his existing players into that scheme. The results have been telling, both for the team and for the individuals. Nobody that I can think of has come to New Orleans from another NBA team and then performed at a higher level, even though they’ve brought on a bunch of “young veterans”. Perhaps it’s coincidence, but for a coach who is supposed to be a master of development, it’s not a good sign.
Shagrin: The Pelicans as a whole have seemed to underperform due to injuries, rotational inconsistencies, and what seems to be a lack of an established pecking order. Like Evans, the team is full of guys who’ve just been handed rich salaries after their rookie contracts and they want to prove themselves. Thus far, Monty Williams seems powerless to fashion these high-octane parts into a well-oiled system and Evans’ career low in effective field-goal percentage is a demonstration of that.
Katz: Why does the entire world refuse to play Tyreke Evans in an appropriate role? As a freshman at Memphis, people thought he was a point guard merely because, after a slumping 6-3 start, Coach Cal moved him to the 1 and the Tigers didn’t lose again until the Sweet 16. But he wasn’t a that. The Kings tried to make him into a featured offensive player. But he wasn’t that. Now, the Pelicans are playing him at the 3 for the vast majority of the time. Can someone please just turn Evans into an instant-offense, facilitating, sixth-man combo guard? Hasn’t this been due to happen for five years now?