2013-14 Season in Review: Jeff Withey
Pelicans.com continues its look back at the 2013-14 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:
NBA experience: One season with Pelicans
Games played/started: 58/4
As the 39th overall pick of last year’s draft, Withey entered 2013-14 as a developing 7-footer who wasn’t expected to immediately contribute to a team hoping to reach the postseason. By season’s end, Withey was starting games for New Orleans, benefiting greatly from being thrown into the deep end. He wound up logging a total of 684 minutes in his rookie campaign, 22nd-most among first-year NBA players.
Withey wasn’t an every-game member of Monty Williams’ rotation until after the All-Star break, but from Feb. 21 on, he appeared in each of the Pelicans’ final 29 games. As the season progressed, he grew more comfortable on the floor and was the team’s second-best shot-blocker (behind Anthony Davis), averaging 2.6 rejections over the final nine games.
“I think I know what he wants from me as a rookie,” Withey said of Williams. “Whenever I get on the floor, I feel like I know my role. I’m in there to play defense, run the floor, do hustle stuff.”
Withey often took a backseat on the offensive end, but contributed three double-digit scoring games that provided a glimpse of his potential. During his ’13 summer-league stint in Las Vegas, Withey averaged just 4.0 points per game, but conditioning and weight training helped him hold his ground in the paint during the NBA season.
“He got stronger,” Williams said. “That helped him to finish around the basket a lot more. Understanding schemes and understanding the NBA game to a degree has helped him. Last summer he was a bit lost on the floor in summer league, just because the game was going so fast. I think it slowed down for him a little bit, but he’s got a ways to go. He’s got a lot of improvement to do.”
One area for improvement Withey often mentioned was his rebounding. He averaged 7.9 rebounds per 36 minutes, ranking him ninth among all Pelicans players in 2013-14.
“I need to rebound better,” he said. “I want to get better at that. That kind of comes with getting stronger, not getting pushed around and knowing how to be in the right place. We’re going to continue to do whatever it takes to get stronger, because in this league, someone with my body frame can’t last that long. I have to pack on that weight, so I can take that beating and stand my ground.”
Withey ultimately may be further ahead in his individual development due to gaining so much on-court experience as a rookie. He hopes to use the offseason to put himself in even better position as he enters Year 2 of his pro career.
“I want to be really confident, then get to where in summer league I can show all of my work that I’ve done,” Withey said. “I want to get to the point where I get real comfortable, so that way next year I don’t have learning pains.”
TOP THREE JEFF WITHEY GAMES OF 2013-14
#3: Jan. 21, 2014 – Sacramento at New Orleans
Although it came in a 114-97 loss, Withey scored a then-career-high 14 points against the Kings, after not tallying more than nine points in any previous game. He also had five rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks.
#2: April 9, 2014 – Phoenix at New Orleans
Withey’s most impressive offensive performance of his rookie season consisted of 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field and 3-for-3 foul shooting. He added two rebounds and three assists in a 94-88 defeat to the Suns.
#1: April 16, 2014 – Houston at New Orleans
In his second straight start, Withey wrapped up 2013-14 with six points, six rebounds and five blocks, helping the Pelicans post a 105-100 win. Two days earlier, he blocked four shots in beating Oklahoma City. “To finish the season off with two wins means a lot to everybody in this room,” Withey said at his locker afterward. “It’s just good to go into the summer with a couple wins.”