Thursday morning Monty Williams and Dell Demps both went through their end of season press conferences with the media and both had some interesting things to say. Below are some quotes from Williams press conference with some of my thoughts on what he said in italics. Check back later today for a similar breakdown of Demps presser as both had some interesting things to say about the Pelicans, both this season and going forward.
On the team’s need for a center:
“I am aware of those games midway through the season when you play against Charlotte and Al Jefferson goes for 30 then the next day you play against Nene and he goes for big numbers. Those are tough games to swallow because you would like to have somebody in the middle on a night in and night out basis that you don’t have to help as much on defense. I think those are the best defensive teams where they have a guy at the center position that can hold his own. And it is twofold for me because there were times that guy on the other team, there were nights they would put him on AD and AD would have two or three guys trying to guard him. So it is not just a defensive presence but that guy has to be able to play both ends of the floor where his guy has to guard him and now AD can go at some of these power forwards that run from him because most power forwards can’t guard him.”
This was an interesting point. Without flat out saying it Williams talked about how the Pelicans struggled to get constant production at both ends of the floor from the center spot, using games against Al Jefferson and Nene as an example. The mentioning of it making life tougher on Davis was a great call too as the size and strength can tend to wear him down. Reading a bit between the lines it seems like center may be a top offseason priority for New Orleans.
On the core five playing together:
“I think having those guys on the floor will help AD. But in saying that you have to get stops to really take advantage of those options and those are the problems we had with that group that everybody wants to talk about. We have to be able to get stops consistently.”
This is the million dollar question. The unit shredded opposing defenses but got shredded on the other end of the floor. A ton of future plans and money rests on the ability to make this group work somehow and Williams realizes that. The nice thing is that Williams seems to realize that while the early returns aren’t promising it may just be a sample size issue meaning he hasn’t discounted playing the lineup together more often to make it work.
On Anthony Davis:
“We are playing through AD so everybody is going to have to adjust to that. I have made that known for the last few months. He is going to be the guy we play through. That doesn’t mean Ryan isn’t going to go for 25 or 30 or Jrue isn’t going to, but we have an anchor to play through, an All-Star that commands double teams, that puts pressure on teams in transition, that handles the ball, shoots the ball and that should make everybody’s job easier.”
“He has proven he can carry a team and to do that at 20/21 years old is astounding.”
Not that there was any question about this but Williams made it clear. This is Anthony Davis’ team and everyone else needs to figure out how they fit in that vision.
On Anthony Morrow:
“Anthony Morrow to start the season didn’t know what weak side X was, he didn’t understand why we loaded, lock and trail, things we talk about every day. By the end of the season he became one of our better team defenders.”
It seems like Morrow really made a good impression on Monty this season. He will surely opt out of his deal to try and get a raise but I would be very surprised if he isn’t in New Orleans again next year.
On Evans as a starter and Eric Gordon as a 6th man:
“I have thought about that and that is part of this evaluation that we are going to have but you have to weigh both scenarios. When you look at Tyreke, his effectiveness as a starter and you can’t just sneeze at that. It is a valid conversation and it is going to take some conversation with me and the staff to see what is best for the team. I think the bigger key is going to be who can play the small forward spot along with those guys and that is something we have to address this summer. So that is a valid question but I also think there is more to the equation than just those two.
“I think the thing that helps Tyreke is having a shooter out there with him, whether it be Ryan or another small forward who can just knock it down. But yeah, it is something that we are going to discuss a good part of the summer.”
Answer to a follow up question about Gordon as the 6th man:
“I don’t want to speculate but it is a part of the equation. Eric is a guy who can score the ball but I anything I say right now is going to get blown out of proportion, even though the question is a good one. But I have thought about Tyreke in the starting role cause he for whatever reason it just clicks for him.”
I am trying to not read too much into things here but this seemed a lot like Monty had doubts if Gordon would be back next year. He seemed to really like the idea of Evans and Holiday playing together and of Evans starting games so I expect things to start that way next season. He also tailored the answer more towards Evans and away from Gordon which leads to my questioning of if Gordon will return.
Some other notes:
- Monty mentioned that only about 30 percent of the offensive package was in this season due to the newcomers and then the injuries. This explains some late game issues and provides even more hope for Davis going forward. If he was this good with just 30 percent of the playbook imagine what he can be with more action designed to get him the ball.
- Monty made a point of making sure that it was clear Evans is not a small forward. He said while he can play the position offensively it is hard for him to do the defensive job that position entails.