Report indicates Alvin Gentry plans to make Anthony Davis even bigger focal point of New Orleans offense

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

It could be up to three weeks before Alvin Gentry gets the opportunity to explain his plans for the 2015-16 New Orleans Pelicans in a press conference – he’s busy right now helping Golden State prepare for its NBA Finals series vs. Cleveland. However, according to one Bay Area report, the recently-named Pelicans head coach has already detailed his desire to expand how New Orleans uses two-time All-Star Anthony Davis in its offensive attack.

According to CSNBayArea.com Warriors insider Monte Poole, “Primarily responsible for the Warriors offense – top-rated for most of the season – Gentry believes the Pelicans have underutilized Davis’ offensive skills. Not only did he express this during his initial interview with (Mickey) Loomis and (Dell) Demps, but Gentry also came into that session equipped with charts and graphs to illustrate his point.”

Davis, who led the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating in just his third pro season, was one of the league’s most feared offensive threats, finishing fourth in scoring (24.4 points per game) on 53.5 percent shooting from the field. Davis had the highest field-goal percentage of anyone who ranked in the top 50 of the NBA in scoring, meaning among the league’s primary offensive threats, he was more efficient with his opportunities than anyone. Although Davis did author game-winning baskets in San Antonio and Oklahoma City during the final seconds of victories last season, the Pelicans didn’t always go through him in crucial fourth-quarter situations.

New Orleans also played at the league’s fourth-slowest pace, at 91.4 possessions per 48 minutes. All of Gentry’s recent teams have played at a breakneck pace, including his 2009-10 Phoenix Suns, who reached the Western Conference finals while playing the league’s fourth-fastest pace (95.3 possessions per 48 minutes).

As SI.com’s Ben Golliver described of Gentry’s potential impact on Davis, “The statistical ramifications for Davis here are mouth-watering. Last season, at age 21, he averaged 24.4 points and 10.2 rebounds while posting a 30.8 PER despite playing at a snail’s pace. By comparison, a 22-year-old Amar’e Stoudemire averaged 26 points and 8.9 rebounds while posting a 26.6 PER in 2004-05 under Mike D’Antoni, with Gentry as an assistant. Young Amar’e was a phenom in his own right, but he was no Davis. If things fall into place and Davis continues to blossom, it’s not outlandish to envision the two-time All-Star making a run at averaging 28/12, a threshold achieved by only Shaquille O’Neal over the last 30 years.”

Golliver envisions a Gentry attack that allows Davis to play to his strengths to an even greater extent. The All-NBA first-teamer may be the league’s best player at putting up big scoring numbers without having plays called for him, partly due to his unique natural talent. Davis is particularly dangerous in the open court, where he can outrun opposing big men and use his athletic ability to overwhelm them for offensive rebounds or soar for high-flying alley oops.

“What happens when the NBA’s top under-25 talent gets fully unleashed?” Golliver wrote. “We’re about to find out… one of the league’s slowest teams in recent years plans to significantly pick up the tempo. That’s a frightening proposition for opponents, who now must contemplate Anthony Davis ike they’ve never seen him before, in a fast and loose system that should utilize his obscene athleticism and above-the-rim finishing ability.”

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