DALLAS — The undisputed focus on the New Orleans Pelicans’ offense is getting the ball into the hands of their superstar.
But not simply to get more shots for Anthony Davis.
“It isn’t about shots, it’s about touching the ball,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said before Wednesday night’s game at Dallas.
“I feel like he should touch the ball at least 30 times a game. Because when he touches the ball, good things usually happen. And our guys know that. Nobody’s icing him out. That would never happen, not while I’m here. But there has to be a focus on making sure he has the ball in his hands because it helps our team.”
In many ways. Not only does getting the ball to the 6-10 forward lead to shots and points – he began the night averaging 24.8 points per game, third-best in the NBA – it leads to open lanes to the basket for penetrating guard Tyreke Evans and 3-point opportunities for shooters Ryan Anderson and Luke Babbitt.
But that doesn’t always happen. Indeed, Davis was averaging only 15.6 shots over the past five games, which is why Evans said he’s increasing his focus on feeding the beast.
“We’ve got a guy in there who can score, so when we get a chance to get it in the post, I’m going to give it to him,” Evans said. “It changes the way the defend us. Some teams are not leaving him. Some teams hedge and he gets that shot at the top of the key, and that’s a shot he’s knocking down pretty well. A lot of his baskets come from putbacks and hustle plays like that. He gets a lot of those.
“But that’s where the ball has to go.”
Part of the issue, Anderson said, is that the Pelicans are still trying to figure out how best to fit in around their 21-year-old superstar.
“When a lot of attention is being put on him, it opens the floor for everybody,” he said. “Tyreke’s been able to get to the basket pretty easy because of him.
“It’s a situation where we’re still continuing to learn how to play around him. Each team is guarding us differently so it’s something that as a group of young guys without a ton of experience, we have to figure it out.”
And that’s coming together – but slowly, because Davis isn’t a typical big man.
“He’s a different breed,” guard Austin Rivers said. “People don’t understand, he gets half his points or more on plays that aren’t isos. They’re lobs, tip-ins, rebounds, running the floor, pick and roll, pop, so people don’t have time to double him.
“It’s not like Carmelo (Anthony) or (Kevin) Durant where he’s getting the ball all the time.”