It wasn’t that Anthony Davis has converted 18 shots of his past 49 attempts that has fans concerned nor a -22 plus/minus in his first thirty minutes against OKC. It’s the hands on the knees during offensive possessions, the settling for the tightly contested 20-foot two-point jumper, the turnovers, and the overall lack of aggressive dominance in the paint.
Defensively, it seems that Davis is shying away from contact. The pair of Nikola Mirotic and Anthony Davis devastates opposing defenses with Davis’ athleticism and Mirotic’s perimeter shooting, but it puts the onus on Davis to use physicality in the paint and force mid-range shots rather than allow easy paths to the basket. The Oklahoma City Thunder had no such trouble last night.
At 4-6, not all is lost for the Pelicans. The Pelicans sit twelfth in the Western Conference standings, but a two-game home stand against the very beatable Chicago Bulls (3-8) and Phoenix Suns (2-7) can change all of that.
Wins don’t come easily in the NBA, and the Bulls showed plenty of fight on Monday night against the New York Knicks in their 116-115 double-overtime victory. Zach LaVine led the charge with all eight points in the second extra session, finishing with a career-high 41 points.
”I love the attack on that last possession to get to the free-throw line, which was obviously needed,” said Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg. “Our guys needed to get a close one. The guys hung tough and they stuck together. We found a way to get it.”
LaVine is living up to the four year, $80 million dollar contract afforded to him and then matched by the Sacramento Kings. At 28 points, five rebounds, and four assists per game, LaVine is making a strong case for Most Improved Player in the NBA in 2018-19. Freshly acquired Jabari Parker (14.4 points, 6.3 rebounds) remains a threat in the post and on the perimeter (3.3 three-point attempts per game). Pelicans will also look out for a familiar face in Justin Holiday (12 points, four rebounds, three assists) who always brings his A-game against his little brother. Finally, rookie Wendell Carter has the goods and intangibles to make his presence known on both ends of the floor and will look to prove his mettle against Davis early.
The Pels should have their way against the 24th ranked defense in the NBA, but nothing will be given to them. Jrue Holiday (22 points, 14 assists, six turnovers), Julius Randle (26 points, eight rebounds), and Nikola Mirotic (16 points, 16 rebounds) did everything they could to overcome the Oklahoma City Thunder, but without definitive effort and leadership from their MVP candidate, they may struggle to beat anyone.
For more on Anthony Davis’ performance as well an over-arching perspective on the Pelicans and their recent performances, join Editor-and-Chief Oleh Kosel, Kevin Barrios, and Crescent City Sports’ David Grubb, as they break down all of these concerns and more on the latest episode of The Bird Calls.
Thanks for listening and Let’s Geaux Pels!