this is a discussion within the Pelicans Community Forum; If every crisis is just an opportunity in disguise, Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans are right where they want to be. Because after suffering a fourth straight loss, this one a 108-101 road defeat against the Houston Rockets ...
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|12-03-2015, 12:30 AM||#1|
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Join Date: May 2002
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Wednesday NBA Roundup: Anthony Davis Has Golden Opportunity Ahead
If every crisis is just an opportunity in disguise, Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans are right where they want to be.
Because after suffering a fourth straight loss, this one a 108-101 road defeat against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, AD and his team dug deeper into their early-season hole. At 4-15, miles away from where everyone hoped and expected it'd be after a playoff berth a year ago, New Orleans is in dire straits—which, in a really weird, admittedly over-optimistic, glass-half-full way, might actually be a good thing for Davis.
Though the Pelicans probably aren't happy about it, AD has a chance to star in the kind of comeback story that could add a new, massively appealing dimension to his legacy. Granted, it's awfully early to start thinking about the legacy of a player when he's only 22. But it's hard to overstate how much NBA fans (particularly casual ones) love a digestible, familiar storyline.
The young, rising superstar singlehandedly hauling his team out of a pit and then doggedly dragging it into the playoffs would be exactly that kind of storyline.
Davis could become a folk hero.
He was more of an ordinary hero Wednesday, scoring 29 points and grabbing 13 boards while producing his requisite highlights.
Very little of this is new, as Davis has been nearly as productive this year as he was in his breakout 2014-15 campaign. He amassed nine blocks against the Memphis Grizzlies on Dec. 1, scored 36 points on Nov. 28 against the Utah Jazz and secured at least 17 rebounds in each of the Pelicans' three straight wins from Nov. 20-25.
Great as he's been, he'll need help engineering this hypothetical comeback.
New Orleans showed some signs against Houston, defending well early on and moving the rock nicely without Davis on the floor:
On balance, though, the Pelicans didn't do enough to support their star. Only Ryan Anderson (19 points) scored more than 10 behind Davis. In contrast, a Rockets squad suffering through its own disappointing season got six double-figure scorers on the board as James Harden led the way with 24 points.
Now, is tanking the smarter play for the Pelicans? Weighed against the best-case scenario of 40-something wins and a near-certain first-round defeat at the hands of a West superpower, I'd argue it is. Especially with Davis needing a superstar running mate that New Orleans can only get with the high lottery pick a mailed-in season would provide.
Davis' long-term potential is too great to waste with shortsighted pushes toward near-term mediocrity.
After last season's statistical dominance (Davis' 2014-15 player efficiency rating was the highest in league history for a player his age, per Basketball-Reference.com), discerning fans don't need a familiar comeback trope to appreciate just how great Davis is.
But it's also true that an inspiring Davis-led run could add real depth and dimension to his resume. And we know things like this tend to stick. Kobe Bryant has his legendary competitiveness, LeBron James has his league-altering versatility and Tim Duncan has his robotic consistency.
Maybe Davis can earn his own label: season-salvaging hero.
We Are Living in Stephen Curry's Fever Dream
Where do you even start with this guy?
Stephen Curry dropped 40 points on the Charlotte Hornets in three quarters, piling up 28 points on 10-of-11 shooting in the third period alone. And it would have felt surreal if Curry hadn't spent the first 19 games of the 2015-16 season making absurd, impossible scoring outbursts such a constant reality.
Needing just 18 shots to get there, Curry's big night propelled the Warriors to a 116-99 win, their 20th straight to start the season.
The stats are mind-numbing, so let's run down a few of them from B/R Insights and ESPN's Tom Haberstroh and Marc Stein:
Also note that the four threes Curry hit in the final 1:53 of the third quarter were not normal threes, per Ethan Strauss of ESPN:
Another mind-blower: Russell Westbrook's manic, rabid takeover last season saw him post four 20-point quarters. Curry now has five through 20 games this year. And if you need any guidance on whose scoring explosions have been more efficient, please refer to Haberstroh's tweet again.
This is the part where it's nice to have some forward-looking analysis, some synopsis of what happened that suggests what's coming next. It'll be hard to fight through the haze left behind by Curry's incineration of the Hornets, but here goes: The Warriors will never lose again, Curry will soon find a way to score six points on one shot and, more seriously, we will remember what Curry's doing this season as a league-altering phenomenon.
On Kobe Bryant, the Wizards and the Transitive Property
The Washington Wizards are the worst team in the league, or at least that's what it seems fair to say after the Los Angeles Lakers, who just fell to the previously winless Philadelphia 76ers on Dec. 1, came into Washington and snatched a 108-104 win.
This is a low point for the Wizards, who beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Dec. 1 and had to be feeling better about the direction of their season.
But hey, there's no denying the transitive property: Lose to the worst and you're the new worst.
Kobe Bryant may have had his best game of the season, scoring 31 points on 10-of-24 shooting. He even hit a pair of jumpers in the final minute en route to 12 fourth-quarter points. It was the kind of performance Bryant loyalists had been waiting for—and perhaps even one that'll silence his critics, per Lang Whitaker of NBA.com:
Well, almost everyone. If Bryant keeps playing in a fashion best described as "not terrible," the Lakers will probably lose their top-three protected pick in the 2016 draft. So maybe Kobe had better keep these vintage efforts a biweekly thing.
The Sixers Would Like to Try Again, Please
On the same day they suspended rookie Jahlil Okafor for two games (a response to the 19-year-old's ever-growing list of legal transgressions), the Philadelphia 76ers had to watch Kristaps Porzingis and his clean rap sheet lead the New York Knicks to an easy 99-87 win.
Porzingis led both teams with 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks while unveiling new skills at the same rapid rate he has all year. This is a player who came into the league labeled a project, yet he's showing improvements to an already NBA-suited game at an alarmingly rapid pace, per NBA analyst Jared Dubin:
Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal marveled at the way Porzingis was whipping the ball around smartly, finding teammates like he hadn't in the past:
Like here, for example, when he calmly dropped off an assist to a cutting Robin Lopez:
Okafor profiles as a great interior scorer who could flirt with All-Star berths eventually. But the incessantly developing Porzingis is something different, maybe something more than that. He's magical, to hear Phil Jackson tell it. And he went one pick after Okafor.
The Birth of Clutch Drummond?
Andre Drummond's free-throw struggles aren't entirely a confidence issue; he's got some mechanical things to work through before he can expect to crack the modest 50 percent barrier. But maybe the clutch pair he hit in the Detroit Pistons' 127-122 overtime win against the Phoenix Suns will help.
Capping a furious comeback, Drummond sank two foul shots with 14 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the game. Perhaps emboldened by Drummond's out-of-character accuracy (he was 6-of-17 on the night and has shot just 38.2 percent from the stripe this year), Detroit cruised through the extra period to secure the victory.
It probably also helped that Reggie Jackson scored 24 of his 34 points after halftime and that Marcus Morris was pretty motivated to stick it to the team that traded him over the summer, as B/R's Zach Buckley noted:
The only thing holding Drummond back from total dominance is that pesky foul line, and the Pistons' broken offense would benefit immensely if opponents couldn't just reliably foul the big man to ensure inefficient scoring.
Here's hoping he builds on the two big ones he hit against the Suns.
Derrick Rose Is Optimistic
First, a stat from SBNation's Ricky O'Donnell:
Next, Derrick Rose's comments after going 3-of-17 in the Chicago Bulls' 99-90 win over the hapless Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
I'm pretty sure we know the kind of player Rose can become, and, uh, this is pretty much it. Guys with his injury history and obviously diminished athleticism don't usually trend up.
Joakim Noah has looked better lately, and Pau Gasol eviscerated Denver's young and/or undersized bigs to the tune of 26 points and 19 rebounds. So if there's any reason for the "nobody's sure if they're any good yet" Bulls to have a hopeful outlook, it has very little to do with Rose, who's shooting 34.3 percent from the field and 18.8 percent from deep on the year.
Stats courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated. Accurate through games played Dec. 2.
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