New Orleans Gentrification

New Pelicans coach to increase tempo, Anthony Davis’ potential and team’s value

            With the fight over ownership of New Orleans’ two major professional sports franchises raging this week, we still don’t know if the New Orleans Pelicans will land in the Bensons’ or LeBlanc’s court. But this much is true; the team’s value is expected to increase with last week’s hiring of new head coach Alvin Gentry. 

            In January, Forbes magazine valued the Pelicans at $650 million, a 48 percent increase from the $340 million Tom Benson paid for the team in 2012. Much of that increase is due to the success of power forward Anthony Davis, the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, two-time All Star and Olympic gold medalist. With the hiring of Gentry they expect Davis’ production and the team’s appraisal to grow by leaps and bounds.

            Davis, 21, is already included as one of the NBA’s best three players. He finished the 2014-15 season with an average of 24.4 points per game – fourth best in the league – on 17.6 field goal attempts per game, making 53.5 percent of his shots. But Gentry, who is wrapping up his duties in the NBA Finals as associate head coach of the Golden State Warriors, thinks Davis and the Pels can do better.

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            According to Comcast Sports Net’s Monte Poole, when the offensive-minded Gentry interviewed with Pelicans’ head of basketball operations Mickey Loomis and general manager Dell Demps, he brought charts and graphs showing the team had underutilized Davis, especially in the fourth quarter of games when he was statistically at his best.

            Gentry is credited for orchestrating the Warriors offense, which averaged 109.7 points per game on a league-leading 100.7 possessions per 48 minutes. Conversely, the Pelicans averaged 100.8 points with 93.7 possessions per 48 minutes (fourth lowest in NBA).

             An increased tempo with the Pelicans flying up and down the court will be a better fit to Davis’ skillset than that seen under former head coach Monty Williams. The floor will open up, providing space for Davis to better take advantage of his skills and natural gifts. Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver believes Davis could see his 24.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game average increase to 28 points and 12 rebounds a game.

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            In a football-minded city, let’s make this analogy to the Saints – expect the Pelicans offense to go from a Carl Smith-led unit of up the middle, up the middle,  up the middle,  punt, to a Sean Payton-led squad where pay dirt can be hit on each and every play.

            In short order, expect the Pelicans’ game to be faster, higher scoring and more entertaining. If Gentry and Davis, as expected, can improve on the Pels eighth and final playoff qualifying position, expect the team to continue to increase in value. If, by chance, they can land an NBA Championship, the Pelicans will soar.   


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