Pelicans Day 2 training camp notebook
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Monty Williams and the Pelicans’ coaching staff will have a problem this season that was rarely an issue over the past two years: Not enough minutes available for everyone they’d like to get on the floor. The addition of perimeter players Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Anthony Morrow – combined with returnees Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers and Brian Roberts – has given New Orleans its most enviable backcourt depth since Williams took over as coach in 2010-11.
“The tough thing is trying to find minutes for all of these guys,” Williams said following Wednesday’s morning practice. “Austin is playing well, Morrow can shoot the ball and is playing well. That’s a big deal for us, trying to find minutes.”
Evans can also play minutes at small forward, which could alleviate some of the crunch. Short term, Gordon is expected to miss the first few games of preseason, making it slightly easier to get some of the other guards playing time on the upcoming three-game road trip.
Due to injuries and reduced depth last season, Williams relied on Greivis Vasquez to log a team-high 34.4 minutes per game. Gordon averaged 30.1 over his 42 appearances, while Rivers (23.2) and Roberts (17.0) played less than half of each contest. In other news Tuesday:
• Roberts sustained an ankle sprain during practice and was held out of intrasquad scrimmaging. The hope was that the injury won’t be a concern. Williams: “We’ll see how he is tonight (at the day’s second practice).”
• Williams on Morrow: “That boy can shoot the ball. When he misses, guys look around like, ‘Did that happen?’ And he has some toughness and some savvy. He’s healthy now for the first time in a while. Guys really look forward to passing him the ball, to see him knock down a shot.”
• Al-Farouq Aminu spent extensive time this summer working on his mid-range shot. Williams said he has seen improvement. Now Aminu must carry it over to 5-on-5 action, including preseason games. “He’s making more 15- to 18-footers, staying away from the three-point line,” Williams said. “I think that’s a big deal for him.” Aminu slashed his three-point attempts last season to just 19, from 47 the season before. He launched 143 as a rookie.
• There has already been a great deal of discussion about the proposed bench alignment that would include Evans, Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith. Williams said he wants to watch the group play more before he assesses its effectiveness. “To be honest, we don’t know,” Williams said. “When you put these groups together, you’re guessing. You hope that Ryan and Jason’s ability to shoot the ball will allow Tyreke to agitate and get to the basket. And (Evans) does have the capability to play pick-and-roll and pass.”