Rumors are circulating around the media that the New Orleans Pelicans brass are moving closer to firing head coach Alvin Gentry. The move is far from unexpected, and has been reported since early last week, as the Pelicans have blundered out to a 1-9 start after losing their first eight.
Several NBA coaches/GMs say Alvin Gentry’s coaching seat on fire in New Orleans. May be just matter of weeks, if not days, they believe.
— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) November 13, 2016
The blame game has already begun in New Orleans, with the Pelicans on the verge of wasting the talent of once-in-a-generation player Anthony Davis. The power forward is among the best players in the game, and has shown it this season. Davis has posted insane stat lines, putting together a season that few big men have rivalled.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 12, 2016
Davis is just the 10th player in NBA history with 300 points and 100 rebounds in the first 10 games of the season – and the other nine on the list are in the Hall of Fame.
He’s leading the Pelicans in points, rebounds, blocks, and steals. He’s averaging 31.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and three blocks per game. He’s having an MVP-type season, and according to FiveThirtyEight, is on pace for the best single season since Michael Jordan’s 1987-88 MVP run.
But as impressive as all that is, it’s easy to see why this is a massive, massive problem.
Davis has been the lone weapon that the Pelicans can depend on, carrying the brunt of the force on offense and defense. But around him, they are awful. The offense is the fourth-worst in the league, and the third-worst shooting. They’re on pace for the worst offensive output since the 2014 Sixers and the 2011 Bobcats.
The team around him is horrible, and that’s not all on the coach.
Day in the life of Anthony Davis pic.twitter.com/y9tPc0KP1Z
— nbaayy (@nbaayy) November 13, 2016
But Alvin Gentry’s scheme has been hard to watch at times. The Pelicans are moving defensively and limiting some passing lanes, but their perimeter defense is extremely lax. And there are times that he offense stagnates around Davis and doesn’t move to the three-point line. But, that’s more of a testament to the fact that the Pelicans just can’t shoot the three than any bias by Gentry in shooting it from that area.
The Pelicans more suffer from an issue of talent, which won’t be solved by giving Gentry the axe.
Quick reminder that Anthony Davis is under contract with the Pelicans until 2021…. #FreeAD
— Mike Korzemba (@mikekorz) November 13, 2016
See, the Pelicans have had trouble historically on the front of taking care of generational talents. They wasted the prime years of Chris Paul with lesser talent, and have largely done the same with Davis. Lottery pick Buddy Hield is struggling, and they lost more in free agency than they could get back. That rests with the GM, not so much the coaching staff.
They gave up a solid amount of shooting in free agency by losing Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, and saw their guard stable depleted. So instead, they added long forwards who can’t shoot particularly well and have created a logjam on offense. Solomon Hill has been pushed to play a bigger role in the offense, only to revert back to his small role that he saw with the Pacers.
Tim Frazier has been a revelation, finally taking over the guard spot and looking to make a name for himself. He’s providing shooting and playmaking that was missing before, and doing it in long spurts. The Pelicans will get better by adding Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday when they return to the lineup.
They’ll get back to winning some games.
But Davis still lacks any meaningful support after four years in the league. And for a small market team like New Orleans looking around the league and seeing teams like Charlotte and Minnesota being able to surround their young stars with credible talent, it’s not much of a factor of if the Pelicans can, it’s why they haven’t.
The Warriors’ game plan against Anthony Davis and the Pelicans was rather straightforward pic.twitter.com/I2ClGQbAlR
— Mika Honkasalo (@mhonkasalo) November 8, 2016
Sure, they can fire another coach and move to another route, with another offense and a new regime.
Or they can address the problem at the top, specifically the transactions that have deemed the current roster as an adequate one to hand to a player that’s only going to come once for a franchise like the Pelicans.
[YouTube – DownToBuck]