With the New Orleans Pelicans opening training camp on Tuesday, some have expressed concern All-Star forward Anthony Davis hasn’t had the proper rest needed to prepare for the rigors of an NBA season.
Davis, however, expressed little concern over the matter at Monday’s media day.
“Man, I’m 21 years old. If I’m getting tired now, we’ve got a problem,” Davis said jokingly. “I love playing the game of basketball. I think (competing in the FIBA Basketball World Cup) kept me in shape, and (Pelicans coach Monty Williams) was there, so he helped me work on what I need to work on for the season.
“As far as right now, I’m ready to go.”
While playing for Team USA in the World Cup, Davis averaged 19.7 minutes with 12.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps said Davis’ leadership made an impact on the team first time he got back to the practice facility after returning from Spain.
“When (Williams) and (Davis) returned from Spain, they were right back (in the practice facility) the next morning,” Demps said. “It really lifted up our gym. Guys had been working out for a couple weeks and just seeing him in here, working out with the guys, it just lifts us up.”
Holiday, Anderson limited
With point guard Jrue Holiday and power forward Ryan Anderson returning to the team after season-ending injuries last season, Williams said he plans to ease the two back into normal activities during training camp.
“We were going to bring guys along slowly anyway,” Williams said when asked about preparing injured players for training camp. “The last thing we want to do is throw them into a camp setting and push them too hard. With (Anderson) and (Holiday), for sure, we want to do what’s right by them as far as workload goes.”
Anderson recently was cleared by team doctors for contact, but Demps said that the team plans on bringing the sharpshooter back along slowly to avoid any setbacks with the herniated disk that he suffered in a game on Jan. 3. against the Boston Celtics.
“He’s been playing pickup ball, but we want to be smart with him,” Demps said. “We don’t want to just throw him in the fire. We’re going to gradually import him into team acivities. We’re going to be smart about it.”
Holiday said that he believes he is somewhere around, “70-75 percent”, back from a stress fracture in his tibia that caused him to miss 48 games last season. He expects to be limited throughout training camp.
“Coach (Williams) and I have talked about how it’s going to go,” Holiday said. “It’s going to go a lot slower than it would usually be if I were healthy. That’s definitely established.”
Holiday and Anderson said they anticipate being ready for the Oct. 28 regular-season opener against the Orlando Magic at the Smoothie King Center.
Holiday was averaging 14.3 points and 7.9 assists per game in the 34 games before his injury. Anderson was averaging 19.8 points and 6.5 rebounds in 22 games last season.
Gordon ready to go
Shooting guard Eric Gordon has had a tumultuous three years in New Orleans, but he expressed excitement heading into this season because this will be the first time he is entering a training camp in New Orleans without an ailing knee injury limiting his activities.
“This will be the first time in a long time that I’ve been able to be myself during camp and have a good start and not have to worry about too much injuries and rehab,” Gordon said.
Gordon missed the final 14 games of last season with a knee injury, but he believes a full offseason of rehab has him poised to have one of his better seasons in New Orleans.
“I’m going to show a lot more explosiveness this year, for sure,” Gordon said.
Rivers’ new role
When former Pelicans backup point guard Brian Roberts chose to sign a two-year, $5.5 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets in the offeseason, Pelicans guard Austin Rivers knew he lost a friend and a mentor.
“He’s a veteran guy. Even though he was only in the league for two years, he’s 29 years old,” Rivers said. “He’s a guy that spent seven years overseas, so he knows a lot you can learn from.”
Some viewed Roberts as the sturdy and dependable presence who prevented Rivers from ever fully grabbing a hold of the backup point guard position in his two years since being drafted in the Top-10 of the 2012 NBA draft. Rivers believes that his time with Roberts was a learning experience he can grow from.
“When you go through obstacles, you just have to take a step back and learn from them,” Rivers said. “Obvioulsy, I wanted to play more than I did, but that’s life.”
Now that Roberts is gone, the backup point guard position is up for grabs. While the addition of players like Jimmer Fredette and Russ Smith provide competition, it is believed that Rivers is the frontrunner for the job.
“I’m going to have a great opportunity this year, a lot of playing time,” Rivers said. “I’m just ready to go out there and have fun ... they say the third year is a big year for a lot of players, and I’m just ready to take off.”