JJ Redick high-fives Josh Hart during a game vs. Oklahoma City

JJ Redick, Josh Hart preparing for Stan Van Gundy's first Pelicans training camp

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

The New Orleans Pelicans will have a different look this season, including a change at head coach (Stan Van Gundy), a couple of major alterations to the rotation (Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams), as well as a new uniform (modeled after the city of New Orleans flag).

The modifications also seem to have carried over to the team’s most accomplished three-point shooter, JJ Redick, who decided to sport a mustache during training camp. Redick explained Friday that a lot went into the thought process behind growing the facial hair, including providing “emotional support” for Van Gundy, a longtime mustache proponent.

“There are a few factors going on here,” Redick said, grinning. “First and foremost, I’m here (in New Orleans) solo, (because) my family stayed in New York. My wife doesn’t let me grow a mustache, so this seems like the perfect time to have a mustache. Two, I wanted to provide some emotional support for Stan in his first couple weeks on the job. So this is an homage to him.” Thirdly, Redick appreciated Henry Cavill’s beard-and-mustache combo in a “Mission Impossible” movie he recently watched.

While Redick’s grooming decisions may not have a direct impact on winning and losing, the 15-year shooting guard discussed some of the ways Van Gundy’s coaching philosophy could help the Pelicans, including his emphasis on defensive preparation. New Orleans finished 21st in defensive efficiency last season, one reason the Pelicans (30-42) did not qualify for the Western Conference’s newly instated play-in round.

“I think we’ll be one of the better defensive teams, for the simple fact that we’ll have great discipline, we’ll have great rules (in terms of how to consistently react and move) and we’ll drill the (heck) out of everything,” Redick said.

Redick indicated that New Orleans players are readying for an intense next couple of weeks of preparation and practices, something Redick experienced during his five seasons playing for Van Gundy in Orlando. The 36-year-old jokingly added that he can’t believe he ended up being part of another Van Gundy training camp this late in his NBA career.

“He’s going to be really amazing for us in terms of creating good habits,” Pelicans reserve Josh Hart said of Van Gundy. “Having accountability, attention to detail, those kinds of things that I feel like we could’ve been better at last year… For a young team that wants to have a winning culture, that’s what you need. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be tough, challenging at times, but it’s going to make us better.”

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