Anthony Davis has transformed himself yet again. Sadly, his miraculous 45 point performance wasn’t enough against the supremely talented Golden State Warriors.
A.D. is giving us the season many expected following his historic 2015 campaign.
Two years ago, A.D. made 1st team all-NBA, had one of the most efficient seasons ever, and secured a playoff spot. At just 21 years old, people raved constantly about his potential.
We may have forgotten since last year, but in summer of ’15 many expected he would be this generation’s LeBron.
A.D. was by no means bad last season, he simply treaded water when most expected him to swim upstream.
Most were disappointed by his stagnant season averages. He started the year with a crummy attitude and his team’s record was abysmal.
This year, A.D. seems like a brand new man.
He’s got the same body, same abilities, and the same moves, but he approaches the game more viciously than he has in previous seasons. His eyes are wider, his sprints faster, and his dunks more insulting to the opposition.
Oct 28, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
As of this moment, A.D. is the NBA’s leading scorer at 47.5 points per game (95 points in 2 contests). Unfortunately, the only numbers that matter now for New Orleans are (0-2) in the standings.
And we all know the reason why there is such a discrepancy between those two statistics.
Simply put, he has no help.
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Going into battle alongside him is Tim Frazier; a D-League superstar now dropping career highs against the best team in the league. Frazier dropped 21/6/10 tonight on 10/18 shooting. These would be noteworthy stats, but next to AD’s 45/17/3 they seem pedestrian.
Lance Stephenson has also showed up to fight. He put up 15/8/6 tonight on a surprisingly effect 6/11 shooting. His defense is scrappy and suffocating, and he has kept his heat check step-backs to a minimum.
Him, AD, and Frazier are looking like the soul of this team.
Dante Cunningham was hitting shots tonight, and the small-ball lineup of Frazier/Hield/Stephenson/Dante/Davis was the Pelicans most effective weapon to combat the Warriors All-Star death-squad.
Outside of Frazier, Lance, and AD the Pelicans don’t have much firepower.
Oct 28, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) and New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) scramble for a loose ball during the first quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Solomon Hill’s defense has been good, but he’s a complete non-factor on offense thus far. Buddy Hield has rebounded and passed better than anticipated, but he can’t put the ball in the bucket yet and seems overwhelmed at times.
Asik is the same as he was last season, largely unimportant. Jones hasn’t gotten enough minutes to showcase himself. Moore is hustling but can’t attack off the dribble. Ajinca has fallen out of the rotation completely in just one game.
AD, Frazier, and Stephenson brought the heat but the rest of the Pelicans were borderline useless. This is likely to be a common theme until Jrue returns or Buddy breaks out and gets comfortable.
You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.
No matter how Gentry tries to shift the pieces around, there isn’t enough offensive talent on this team to trade blows with teams like Golden State. Regardless, this game was a lot closer than it could have been given both rosters on paper.
The Pelicans were down 10 early, but managed to tie it up in the third. The Warriors got complacent and overconfident while the Pelicans held on for dear life. As great as their effort was, Steph Curry still hit crazy shots and they were down by 15 halfway through the 4th.
Lance had a gorgeous circus layup and AD continued to play like ’62 Wilt Chamberlain for long enough to get the Warriors lead down to single digits, but a win never seemed possible.
Oct 28, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (9) is defended by New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) and guard Tim Frazier during the second half of a game at the Smoothie King Center. The Warriors defeated the Pelicans 122-114. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
The Pelicans next game is against the surging San Antonio Spurs, so an 0-3 start seems inevitable.
Soon the schedule will get easier and Jrue will return. Tyreke can probably be traded for a small piece and Asik and Ajinca are always on the market.
What we know now is that AD is destined for a monster career season and Frazier is more than a phase. Everything else is question marks and mysteries until we have a large enough sample size to draw some meaningful conclusions.
When it comes right down to it, when worse comes to worse — this team is easy to root for.
I’ll take a team of bulldogs who can’t make a layup over some disinterested brats any day of the week. Last year we saw a lack of effort, this year we see a lack of firepower.
Hopefully when the firepower returns, the New Orleans Pelicans won’t be lacking either……