The New Orleans Pelicans lost their last game of the Las Vegas Summer League to the D-League Select Team, bringing their record to 1-4. Of course, winning in Las Vegas hardly matters. Buddy Hield was once again ice cold, scoring 11 points on dreadful 5-18 shooting and 1-7 behind the arc. On the plus side, he continues to flash far more playmaking than expected with 5 assists and a number of potential assists missed by his teammates.
Alvin Gentry graced the announcing booth in the second quarter, as he did Wednesday where he
discussed evaded questions about Tyreke Evans. Today the focus was on Jrue Holiday and the story, as you'd expect, was very different.
I thought Jrue had a great year. When you take away the time restrictions that he had and when he played 30 minutes a game he averaged almost 20 points a game and almost 8 assists. I thought AD had a great year. Unfortunately for us we didn't win a lot of games. But, he had an MVP type season. Averaged almost 25 points a game, double figure rebounds, and over two blocked shots a game...
I love Jrue Holiday. I think he's really one of the underrated guards in this league. I think he's really a tremendous player. Like I said, the last 30 games of the season he averaged almost 20 (points) and 8 or 9 assists a game. He can get the ball where ever he wants to. We're excited about him. I think he's going to be terrific.
I'll give Alvin Gentry this, he can remember a bunch of stats. In the last 30 games of the season Holiday averaged 20.3 points, 7.2 assists, and 3.4 rebounds in 31.8 minutes per game. It's clear comparing the comments on Evans (evasive) to Holiday (glowing) that the Pelicans organization has tossed their lot in with Holiday as the point guard of the future.
Gentry also had a little to say about rookies Buddy Hield and Cheick Diallo. The commentators tried to get Gentry to talk about the free agent signings but since none of them are official he was required to pass. Here's the little he did say about Hield and Diallo.
With Buddy the biggest surprise to me, number one, is he has the ability to be a playmaker also. I don't know if you saw that much at Oklahoma. In the practices we've had and the games we've played he's a very unselfish player. Obviously they've done everything they can to take away his jumper here. He's creating plays and been a facilitator. I guess that's the big thing for me.
With Cheick what you see if what you get. He's going to be a kid who gets out and runs the floor. Does a lot of the things, he's had two double-doubles in the four games we've played. I'm excited about that. Obviously he's going to have to get stronger and have a better feel for the game. I think you get that from just playing more, the experience being out on the floor.
I don't read a whole lot into Buddy's shooting woes this summer. Could it be bad or a sign to come? Maybe. I'm not completely ruling it out. But, there's a huge caveat on the role he's been asked to play in the summer league versus what he will do, presumably, in the starting lineup this fall.
Eric Gordon attempted 608 3-pointers in the last two seasons. Of those, 558 (91.8%) were considered open or wide open according to SportVU tracking data available on NBA Stats. That's the kind of gravity Anthony Davis creates diving into the paint in the pick and roll or charging toward the basket in transition. It's also precisely the kind of gravity that the summer Pelican big men lack.
Teams have elected to press, switch, and even double Buddy Hield on most screens throughout the summer. He's forced quite a few shots thanks to this pressure. That's bad, because ideally he would take whatever the defense gave he every time. There's obviously some internal desire for Buddy to prove himself here in Vegas and those efforts have fallen flat.
However, he's also made some adjustments in the last three games. While the shooting has remained ice cold, he's flashing far more play making than expected and racked up five assists in three consecutive contests. Watch how both defenders go with Buddy here and how he makes the right play lobbing it up accurately for Cheick Diallo to finish.
Why haven't I seen this posted yet? Hield ➡ Diallo pic.twitter.com/3fRqt1W5YQ— David Fisher (@DavidFisherTBW) July 16, 2016
A number of potential assists for Hield, including a couple pretty pocket passes to Alex Olah, were lost due to poor shooting.
Cheick Diallo, on the other hand, had a coming out party in Las Vegas. Consider that Diallo logged just 202 minutes at Kansas last season. Between the NBA Combine scrimmages (44 minutes) and the Las Vegas Summer League (145 minutes) he's nearly matched that total while scoring exactly the same number of points (81) combined.
Diallo has flashed some touch well beyond my expectations around the rim, converting a number of hook shots with his right hand including this tough one today.
It is unlikely the Pelicans expect Diallo to be a rotation player as a rookie. Let's try to keep expectations realistic. However, he has demonstrated enough promise to be worth a significant guarantee (as second round picks go) and a ton of investment by the coaching staff. Cheick Diallo absolutely flies down the floor into transition, put forth solid effort against far larger big men, and has the tools to be a real rim protector despite his lackluster (6'9") height.
That's about it from Summer League. Expect the Pelicans to announce official signings in the coming days barring a trade.