The New Orleans Pelicans have missed the NBA Playoffs five of the past six seasons. And while they’re only 29 games into this season, last night’s 115-109 win over Milwaukee had Alvin Gentry’s team in seventh place in a highly competitive Western Conference Playoff race. Gentry joined The Jim Rome Show Thursday happy with his teams progress, but understanding there’s a long way to go.
“I feel pretty good about it, but I still think that we’ve got a whole other level that we can get to,” Gentry said on CBS Sports Radio. “So I’m going to continue to push buttons and get us there. We’ve had AD (Anthony Davis) out for five or six games, so we’ve struggled a little bit when he’s been out. But I think that when we are healthy and everybody is there, I think the roles have been well defined now… I think as long as that’s the case and we are healthy, I think we got a chance to be a special team.”
The Pelicans’ offense ranks among the best in scoring and assists per game currently, something Gentry credits Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, two versatile big men whose chemistry continues to improve.
“We have two great big players, and they are willing passers,” Gentry said. “They can play inside and outside and so they realize what they have to do to help this team win and they’re willing to do it. That’s why I think right now Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore are playing at such a high high level.”
Watching two of the NBA’s best big men on a nightly basis is starting to become the new normal for Gentry. But the Pelicans third-year coach had the pleasure of watching another talented big man last night, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. A six-foot-11 guard who can legitimately play every position on the court, just one reason he’s a matchup nightmare.
“He basically has the length of Kevin Durant, but he’s got shoulders like Dwight Howard. So that’s a crazy body type for this length,” Gentry said. “He’s playing at such a high level, there’s not anything that he can’t do. Obviously he’s got to get a little better at his shot, but when you have a guy like that, it makes it a really really tough matchup.”