During the New Orleans Pelicans 2016 Media Day, Dell Demps made a point of emphasizing the process, so much so that winning seemed to take a backseat for the upcoming season.
“I think all the teams in the Western Conference right now are setting goals to get to the playoffs. I think right now what we’re going to focus on is the process. That process is going to be our daily work: focusing on our defense, making sure we’re doing the right things — playing hard, playing smart, and playing the right way.”
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much does it bother you that Dell Demps has placed more importance on the process over prioritizing the playoffs this coming season and why?
I'm not overly concerned as I'm from the school of thought that you can't fix everything in one offseason — but you should be close in two. If Jrue Holiday wasn't going to miss time and if Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter were healthy, I'd be a little more disheartened, but we still need to figure things out.
We need to know if Holiday is the future at PG for this team. He's missed so much time due to injury in the past, and reallly has only played at an extremely high level for about 35 or 40 games. So banking on a player who has this kind of injury history -- even a very good one (which I do believe Jrue is) -- for the long term is something that needs further evaluation. Add to that that Holiday has changed agents in a contract year and he may be ready to move on due to his string of bad luck and find a place that better suits his family and their health needs/comfort. His absence makes us have to take long looks at Fraizer and Galloway to see if they are legitimate starting or high minute back ups that can lead a playoff team.
Also, we need to learn if Solomon Hill will be that two-way player or if he is a defensive guru that is a liability on the offensive end. We also need to find out if he is the answer at small forward or if he best suited to play the 4 in small ball lineups.
We need to see if Terrence Jones and Anthony Davis can pair together in the pros like they did in college allowing us to move on from Omer Asik and maybe Alexis Ajinca.
This was a large roster overhaul. It's going to take time for us to see what holes are left to fill in the next offseason. If everything goes as I think it will, we will be progressing while still in the playoff race. However, I choose getting answers and improving weaknesses over short term fixes.
I am not too concerned about Demps' modified stance because I believe there is no real shortcut to the playoffs. The Pelicans needed a new identity and the free agents that were brought in are the "first bricks" of the wall.
The part of the "process" narrative that concerns me is that it can be used as a distraction or crutch if the team performs poorly. The process is a vague term, but it is all a "process." The Warriors have a process, so do the Spurs and Nets. I look for improvement in effort and defense, and that will show me that this "process" is headed in the right direction.
It would have been nice if they emphasized the process early in the whole process, huh? After years of trying to skip steps in a desperate lunge for the playoffs, the franchise might have finally taken a real look in the mirror about what acting in a shortsighted manner has wrought. Or, far more likely, Dell Demps realizes that this team without a NBA starting caliber point guard is probably going to struggle to begin the season and he's doing everything in his power to stamp down expectations to avoid a situation like last November.
As much as seeing the Pelicans make the playoffs would be nice, I think we have to continue with the process of building the team. Dell Demps’ words, while somewhat novel, change nothing in my eyes. I've always thought we have to be great by 2019. Anything before that is gravy.
At the end of the day, words mean next to nothing, so Dell Demps placing a new tagline on a New Orleans Pelicans season should frazzle little. The more important thing to grade is all the relevant personnel moves in the attempt to reach the final objective of fielding a championship level roster.
With Alvin Gentry at the helm and Anthony Davis the undisputed star, last season was a disaster despite the heavy mask of injury. In case you’ve forgotten, the new contracts handed out to Ajinca and Asik never made sense from day one, while keeping offensive role players like Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson for the duration of their contracts instead of landing an asset, no matter how small, would have proven a smarter option.
In my eyes, the process of building a team around the current head coach and its superstar got off to one hell of a rocky start a little over a year ago. As evidenced by all the new faces, it speaks volumes that the front office likely agrees. Hence, I’m not the least bit bothered by the usage of new terminology, but I cannot let the organization off the hook entirely since the current process began the day Monty Williams left town.
Media day is a day of words -- as Nola.com wrote here, the most notable words have been a bit less enthusiastic than expected — but that’s all they are. Demps’ thoughts about the process — couldn’t he have picked a different word in order to stay away from the stench of Sam Hinkie? — aren’t as important as, say, losing Jrue Holiday for an unknown amount of time, or the Tyreke Evans injury, or the Quincy Pondexter injury or the unknown fit of Solomon Hill and E’Twaun Moore.
If a 10 represents “very bothered” and a 1 is “meh,” give me a “meh.”
Many of the ill-fated Finishing Five players were brought in at nearly the same time as Davis, so even though hopes were high for the No. 1 overall pick, they needed to produce (btw, how good could the team have been if Gordon panned out?). Now Davis is the unquestioned star. Therefore, it’s time to build around your star to best highlight his abilities. This team needs, and can be sustained by, a slow build if the “process” this year makes the team more cohesive and sets the stages for lots of wins in the next two seasons - that’s the nice thing about having “young veterans”: they’re already actual NBA players but can still change who they are on the court. What we want are pieces that fit around the star.
If the Pels don’t make the playoffs this year, that would suck, but we’d have to know why before preemptively criticizing Demps now.
Does Jrue play? How well?
Does the defense improve? If not, where does the blame lie?
Does Davis go video game mode multiple times a week? Or just once in awhile? How many games does he play? Does he swallow up attempts guards attempting to get to the rim?
I’m all about tempering expectations; last year I figured the Pelicans would have a top-5 offense and cruise into the playoffs. Let’s see what happen if expectations are essentially “meh.”