Here goes nothing.
That might as well be the official tag line of NBA Summer League, which opens its Las Vegas chapter Friday afternoon when the New Orleans Pelicans tip off against the Milwaukee Bucks at 5 p.m. in UNLV’s Cox Pavillion.
Sporting a roster thrown together this week and with just six practices under their belt, Pelicans coach Darren Erman isn’t sure what New Orleans is going to look like when it gets out onto the floor against a live opponent.
“Time will tell,” Erman said. “I hope we are ready.”
But he’s excited to see how it unfolds.
“Everyone is pretty much in our same position,” Erman said. “It’s been done thousands of times, so you just have to know how to keep it simple and keep everyone on the same page offensively and defensively.
“Hopefully we have done that. Who knows, though, by Sunday everyone might think I’m the worst guy ever.”
Erman has already shown he’s far from the worst Summer League coach ever. He led the Golden State Warriors to the tournament championship in 2013 and said it was an uplifting experience for the young prospects, heralding the survive-and-advance format that starts following pool play.
But the overall goal of the week in Las Vegas is to find a budding talent who stands out when the lights come on while a gym full of scouts and front office personnel watches.
“We’ll go to Vegas and roll the dice and see what happens,” Erman said.
Erman was cautious to single anyone out as the most likely player to catch on the Pelicans roster, but did point out guards Seth Curry and Larry Drew II as guys who performed well during the brief minicamp.
Drew and Curry have the best pedigrees on the Pelicans’ summer league squad as the sons of former NBA players Dell Curry and Larry Drew (Seth is also younger brother of reigning MVP Stephen Curry). The guards also experienced success at major college programs with Curry attending Duke and Drew II at UCLA.
With a few open spots left on the Pelicans roster, it’s possible either of them could earn a chance if their next week unfolds the way the team’s staff wants it to.
“I think the system is good for me, personally,” Curry said. “First of all, just getting up and down and playing fast with the pace coach Gentry likes to play and having players on this team who command attention, I think I can help spread the floor and deliver a shooting punch they haven’t really had in the past.”
Erman said despite some overlap in skills, he will play the pair together often and see how they react.
“The great thing about Summer League is that if you have one or two good games, you’ll have the opportunity to make it,” Erman said. “That’s what this thing is all about. It’s about giving these guys the opportunity to showcase their talents. That’s the whole point of Summer League and I hope they go out and do it.”
Soaking it in
Erman, who is the Pelicans’ de factor defensive coordinator, said the learning curve to pick up the team’s new defensive scheme isn’t a complicated one.
Despite the lack of practice time, he was able to implement most of the system’s basics and said most of the team’s defensive success is predicated on activity as much as assignments.
“The key to the defense is keeping things simple,” Erman said. “We want everyone on the same page. If everyone is confused and not on the same page, then that’s what leads to giving up baskets. As long as they’re on the same page, I think we’ll be fine and I think we are right now.”