Pelicans social media Q and A: Anthony Davis in MVP conversation
This week we solicited questions from fans on Pelicans Instagram, for a 19-minute video posted on the team’s official Facebook page, hosted by Cindy Robinson. On Thursday, we addressed additional queries we couldn’t get to due to time constraints; here is a second batch of topics generated by fans on Instagram:
Will Anthony Davis finally get his previously deserved MVP?
Well, several national media outlets are very intrigued by that possibility. NBA.com listed Davis third on its MVP Ladder at the conclusion of the 2017-18 regular season – and that was before he led the Pelicans to their first playoff-series sweep in team history. As writer Sekou Smith put it, “His ability to carry the load for the Pelicans the way he did… is easily the most impressive part of his season. There was no guarantee the Pelicans would make the playoffs in a rugged Western Conference even with (DeMarcus) Cousins healthy. To do it without him speaks volumes about the impact Davis had on his team.” This summer, SI.com ranked Davis fifth on its top 100 players list, but noted “There’s a case to be made for Davis (28.1 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.3 APG) as the third- or fourth-best player in the league, and it goes like this: No other player – not LeBron James, not Kevin Durant, not anyone – is so consistently dominant on both sides of the ball. Davis could win Defensive Player of the Year while leading the league in scoring.” High praise indeed for a player who is still just 25 years old.
Incidentally, New Orleans was one of eight teams that had four or more players ranked in the top 75 of SI.com’s list. The others were Golden State, Houston, Utah, Minnesota, Denver, Boston and Philadelphia. Jrue Holiday, Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle placed 29, 60 and 72, respectively.
Is Anthony Davis going to wear a headband again?
We might have to ask Davis this during training camp. I didn’t realize it until I went back through game-action photos from last season, but he essentially stopped wearing a headband after January (he frequently wore one in the first few months of ’17-18). If you’re superstitious, that means New Orleans had a much better record last season when Davis did not wear a headband. So the educated guess would be maybe he opts not to bring back that accessory in ’18-19.
Is Frank Jackson healthy and ready to play?
After missing what would’ve been his rookie NBA season due to foot surgery, not only is the Duke University product healthy, but there’s palpable enthusiasm among his teammates that Jackson has a chance to be a very good player at this level. In his brief summer league game action and during voluntary workouts leading up to training camp, he’s proven to be more athletic and explosive on the court than many realized.
Jackson logged just 13 minutes in New Orleans’ summer opener in Las Vegas, then had to sit out the team’s other four games due to an ankle injury, but that was a precautionary measure. He only required a minimal amount of time of rest before he was able to return to playing.
Are the new players comfortable in our Pelicans system?
It’s not exactly breaking news that NBA players focus on conditioning during the offseason, but it seems like New Orleans’ offseason additions – as well as some of the team’s returnees – were intent on being in elite shape in order to excel in Alvin Gentry’s fast-paced attack. To use one example, Jahlil Okafor appears to be in the best shape of his pro career, partly from altering his diet. Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton are expected to be good fits on a team that played at a breakneck speed during the second half of last season. Randle’s Lakers team under Luke Walton was near the top of the NBA in tempo, while playing fast will be a relatively new experience for Payton; the Magic were a middle-of-the-pack squad in that category throughout his tenure of three-plus seasons.
Who will be the next players drafted by the Pelicans?
Impossible to predict, but New Orleans still owns its first-round pick in 2019. The May draft lottery will mark the first time that a new odds format will be in place, with no team carrying greater than a 14 percent chance of earning the No. 1 pick (previously the NBA team with the worst regular season record held 25 percent odds). Of course, the Pelicans are intent on reaching the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 2008-09, which would make that a moot point for them.
Who do the Pelicans play in the preseason?
Roughly two weeks from today, New Orleans will travel to Chicago on Sept. 29 for its preseason opener vs. the Bulls on Sept. 30. We’re still awaiting broadcast information from NBA TV on which Pelicans preseason games might make the national airwaves, but for a second straight year, Pelicans.com is planning to live-stream the vast majority of the team’s exhibition slate. Sean Kelley will be on the call, joined by Daniel Sallerson.
Whether by design or not, all five New Orleans preseason games are against Eastern Conference opponents, avoiding matchups with any division or conference rivals. In an oddity, the Pelicans have a pair of preseason back-to-backs, Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Oct. 10-11.
What does the Pelicans’ practice schedule look like?
Like nearly every NBA team, New Orleans is slated to begin training camp practices on Sept. 25, with Media Day taking place Sept. 24. The Pelicans will be practicing daily prior to heading to the Windy City to play the Bulls in the United Center. New Orleans also will hold its annual open practice for fans in the Smoothie King Center, expected to take place Sunday, Oct. 7 (in case you were curious, the NFL’s Saints are off that day, because they will be playing on Monday Night Football vs. Washington, across the street in the Superdome).
When is the first home game?
The Pelicans will play a preseason home game Oct. 11 that concludes the exhibition slate. The regular season home opener is Friday, Oct. 19 vs. Sacramento. Random fact: Of the first eight teams to visit the Smoothie King Center in ’18-19, only one made the playoffs (Utah) last season. New Orleans would love to be more effective at home after going 24-17 last season; starting quickly out of the gate may be essential to have a chance to accomplish that goal.