To get his offense moving forward, Alvin Gentry is taking a look back.
The Pelicans coach has spent some time lately studying guard Tyreke Evans and what worked last season under former coach Monty Williams. At Thursday’s practice, Gentry installed some plays that will look familiar to the Pelicans, offensive sets similar to ones they ran last season with Evans.
“I’ve done it anywhere I’ve been,” Gentry said. “We did it at Golden State last year. Some of the stuff that they ran that was very successful (the previous season), we kept. We’ve done it at Phoenix. Here it’s no different. There are some plays that they ran (that) were very effective plays. As a coach, I think you owe it to the guys that if you see something like that, you can put it on the play-call sheet.”
That’s notable this week after Evans created a small stir with comments after Monday’s loss to Boston that he didn’t think a pass-first mentality suited his style.
On Thursday, Evans said he and Gentry are on the same page, and he shifted his critique of Monday’s performance, saying that his biggest issue with passes early in the shot clock is that it led not to the ball movement that the Pelicans want, but to quick shots that weren’t necessarily New Orleans’ best option.
“I just thought last game we did a lot of one-pass shots, and that’s what kind of got us off a rhythm,” Evans said. “We’re trying to play defense for 24 seconds and then we come down and do one pass and then a shot. That’s not making the defense work. We’ve just got to do a better job with that.”
Gentry’s offense is predicated on taking the first good shot available.
“If it’s an open shot, take it,” Evans said.
But it relies on ball movement to create open looks. Evans is accustomed to probing a defense with the dribble, but said he and Gentry are on the same page in terms of his role in the offense.
“It’s new to me, but it’s nothing I never did before,” Evans said. “I just got to get the hang of it and get the feel of it. That’s pretty much it.”
Evans was hopeful that some new-old offensive sets would get the Pelicans going.
But he’s also looking to shift himself into another gear.
Evans, who’s played four games this season after missing 17 following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in October, said he’s still working to get into basketball shape.
He’s averaging 11 points, 7.8 assists and five rebounds per game.
Evans said he “didn’t come out at all” from Wednesday’s practice, then had a lighter day Thursday, trying to get his body ready for Friday’s home game against the Washington Wizards.
His legs “just feel heavy,” Evans said.
“I feel like I’m in training camp,” he said. “Basically this is like training camp.”
In some ways, that’s true mentally as well. Though Evans had time in training camp to learn Gentry’s offense, he’s only now trying to master it in games, and that will take some time.
“It’s kind of like I’m hesitating right now, just trying to find that rhythm,” Evans said. “I still got to be aggressive at the end of the day. Tomorrow I’m going to be aggressive from the rip.”
And as Evans finds his groove, Gentry said he has no concerns that he and Evans can figure out the best ways to use him offensively.
“At the end of the day, we’ve had him for four games, basically,” Gentry said. “He’s trying to learn and we’re trying to learn, so I don’t see any reason why it won’t work out.”