He’s not promising a championship — at least not right away.
But on Tuesday, new Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry promised to “take this team to the next level” in the 2015-16 season.
Gentry’s remarks came during a teleconference with season-ticket holders, and in response to a question from one fan about the Pelicans’ chances of making a deep playoff run, as opposed to being swept in the first round as was the case last season, he responded, “It was great what happened last season. This team did a great job of playing itself into the playoffs, and they did by beating the San Antonio Spurs (in the regular-season finale), who were the world champions at the time, in the final game. We don’t want to just into the playoffs this year though. We want to get into the playoffs and be a huge factor.”
How Gentry plans to accomplish that was the focus of most of the other questions.
Here’s a sampling:
Michelle in Metairie: What is your motivational style?
Gentry: Basketball has to be fun. You have to get your work done, be well-prepared and take care of the little things because they can become huge things down the stretch. But we do a lot of things, like playing music through the warmup and stretching parts of practice. It gives me an opportunity to know their music. They don’t like us to put on The Temptations. Nowadays we’ve got to listen to Jay-Z.
Tony in Gretna: Are you going to use the offense you used at Golden State, or are you going to adjust it more to your personnel here?
Gentry: We have a player in Anthony Davis who is so athletic that we will run some of the offense through him. But our goal is be one of those teams that play very much up-tempo basketball. We’re going to be a much-better 3-point shooting team, because we’re going to get many more open shots.
Martin in New Orleans: What kind of defensive philosophy do you have?
Gentry: We will protect the paint. We want to force teams into contested jump shots. Our whole thing is that in this league it’s impossible to beat good teams if you’re just a jump shooting team. We’re going try to make everyone a jump shooting team by keeping the ball out of the paint. And then we want to get out and run. Our defense is going to be our best offense.
Steve from Marrero: What specifically are you doing to develop Anthony Davis’ offensive game?
Gentry: We’re going to spend a lot of time on increasing his shooting range, especially to corner 3s. Every day he goes into the gym, he needs to make 150 corner 3s from each side. That’s got to become a consistent shot for him. I don’t think that’s going to be problem for him because, if you go back to his high school days, he was a very good shooter. He still has that range, but I don’t think it’s been incorporated into his offense since then.
John in New Orleans: How do you plan to use Tyreke Evans?
Gentry: You are going to see such great things out of him. He’s on a special diet and has lost 12 pounds. The style of play we’re going to have probably suits him better than any player on our team — getting up and down the court, being able to drive the basketball, finding guys for the easy basket. Those are gong to be things that raise his game to another level. He’ll be primarily a point guard but we’ll also play him at the two and at small forward.
Brady in Kenner: How do you envision Ryan Anderson being used in your system?
Gentry: Ryan is one of those guys who shoots with great range, and we like the fact that he’s a stretch player. But I think he has much more to his game than that. In the playoffs, he made four straight post-up shots. He’s also has the capability of taking the ball to the basket and getting fouled. And he creates space for Anthony when they’re both in the game. I think you’ll see Ryan on the floor quite a bit.
Steve in Kenner: Last year against Golden State in the playoffs, we kind of ran out of gas in the fourth quarter. Your system can take a lot out of a team. What are you planning as far as conditioning to maintain that fast pace?
Gentry: I’ve always had the philosophy that we have to be the best-conditioned team in the league. We want to be the team that in the fourth quarter is stepping up and we’re running the legs out from under the other team. In practice, we play with an 18-second shot clock and a five-second get-it-over-halfcourt rule. We want the games to be easier than practice. You’ll see us do a lot of things, especially from the conditioning standpoint. That way in the fourth quarter we’ll be the better conditioned team, and we can run faster, jump higher and close out games.