Davis recently finished third in voting for the league’s Most Improved Player award. Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic received the honor and Lance Stephenson of the Indiana Pacers followed. AD finished his sophomore season averaging 20.8 points, 10 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. The future for Davis and the Pelicans looks bright… if all can remain healthy.
Cam Jordan dropped by Morris Jeff Community school to urge kids to pick up a book and read. The defensive end was sporting his jersey from the Pro Bowl he attended for the first time this year. He answered a bunch of students’ questions ranging from who is the best player on the Saints (he pointed at the #94 on his jersey) to how much does the average NFL player make. Kids sure learn the value of a dollar fast!
After the Q&A session Jordan was challenged to a dance-off by a teacher and reluctantly accepted.
Of course, he and his crew would go on to win.
Following the fun and games, Jordan was asked if it’s a relief going into this season not having to worry about his contract, since the 5th year option on his rookie contract was exercised by the team.
"I don't know if I've ever been worried about it," Jordan said.
"Honestly, I'm just focused on trying to perform for my team and put us in the best position to be a winning team. That's what’s really important to me, is to get a Super Bowl ring. Some of the older guys have one, and I'm jealous."
Then, when asked about opening the season against the hated Atlanta Falcons, Jordan took a playful jab at the dirty Birds and their putrid offensive line from last year.
“We start over there this year right?” Cam said smiling. “That’s OK; we’ll start off with that road game win. I’m sure they've done something with their o-line hopefully. I don’t know if you call them an o-line last year
...roadblocks ...speed bumps.”
With the schedule finally being released, the next big event for the NFL is the draft which kicks-off with round 1 on Thursday, May 8th. Here is a look at some of the top talent that will be available on the offensive side of the football.
Johnny Manziel: 5ft11 208lbs Texas A&M
Johnny Football’s creativity, elusiveness and production versus the defenses of the mighty SEC cannot be denied, but there are plenty of question marks surrounding the young man. Height, lack of a pocket presence and concerns over durability could cause teams in the top 10 to pass on the Heisman Trophy winner.
Blake Bortles: 6ft5 232lbs Central Florida
Has the size along with a big arm QB guru’s drool over and while not a running QB, isn’t a statue either and can scramble for yards. Many feel he is the signal caller with the most upside but isn’t ready to start day one for a franchise.
Teddy Bridgewater: 6ft2 215lbs Louisville
At the beginning of the 2013 season Bridgewater was at the top of just about everyone’s draft board, but his recent pro day workout has caused his stock to plummet. He has an above average arm and is mobile, but not a real running threat a-la Cam Newton. There are also concerns about possible durability issues in the NFL due to his thin frame.
Derek Carr: 6ft2 215lbs Fresno State
Have heard some analysts call Carr the most natural passer in this class. He has great vision, a strong arm and is your prototypical pocket passer. The problem is he beat up a bunch of weak teams playing at Freson State. Will his success translate to the pros?
Jimmy Garoppolo: 6ft2 225lbs Eastern Illinois
Folks sure do love this kid’s quick release and arm strength, with his biggest knock being the level of completion he played against. I’ve also read some who criticize his hand size. I view him as a round 3 selection, but have a feeling a team will panic and reach for him in the 2nd.
Carlos Hyde: 6ft 230lbs Ohio State
Is the kind of RB who will either run thorough or over you. POWER is the name of his game and could easily be the feature guy for any NFL team. Hyde is also a receiving threat as he has surprisingly good hands for a bigger back. Has had off the field problems and served a 3 game suspension after a video showed he attempted to strike a woman in a bar.
Jeremy Hill: 6ft1 233lbs LSU
The only red flag I hear about Hill are his off the field issues, which he has seemingly put behind him after his LSU teammates voted him back onto the team. What I see is 3 down potential in the pros with the ability to dominate a game. Has the power to put defenders on their backs to go along with a speed burst that makes him difficult to track down.
Tre Mason: 5ft8 207lbs Auburn
Monster games against Missouri and Alabama really propelled his name into national attention. While small in size, showed the ability to break tackles to go along with his speed. Mason’s size may prevent him from being a feature back in the NFL, but his value lies in the cat-like cutting ability along with his quickness.
Bishop Sankey: 5ft9 210lbs Washington
Sankey is another back that may be small in size but sure packs a punch. Has great vision along with sweet cutting ability that allows him to gain extra yards after contact. He also has great hands and is a receiving threat out of the backfield.
Ka’Deem Carey 5ft9 207lbs Arizona
This young man would be ranked higher if he didn’t have some off the off the field concerns and had a better showing at the NFL combine. But Carey is quick, with good power in his lower body and even catches the ball well out the backfield. His vision and football IQ are also considered some of the best in the class at this position.
Sammy Watkins: 6ft1 200lbs Clemson
One word to describe Watkins is EXPLOSIVE. If he touches the football he is a threat to score. He has excellent hands and speed; a few extra inches height wise would be nice but Watkins is still easily the best receiver in this year’s class. Many are comparing to the likes of AJ Green of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Mike Evans: 6ft4 231lbs Texas A&M
Evans was physically imposing in every game he played in last year no matter who he was matched up against. His arms seem abnormally long and give him a devastating reach to haul in passes. Another big plus is he is not afraid to block. Evans must watch his temper though and avoid taking stupid penalties.
Odell Beckham Jr. 5ft11 198lbs LSU
Fill a dual need for a team as OBJ can be one of your top receivers and also continue on special teams as a return man. Speed is in his genes as his mom was a track star while he also gets athleticism from his dad who was a running back at LSU. Beckham’s big hands cradle passes like soft pillows and is a sure thing to be taken in round 1.
Brandin Cooks: 5ft9 189lbs Oregon State
Sure he is a bit undersized, but should be able to play the slot in the NFL. Will be a mismatch problem and can stretch the field vertically with hits jets that should be able to burn the top corners in the league. Cooks is also a great route runner and has good hands. He should be a lethal weapon on 3rd downs.
Marqise Lee: 5ft11 192lbs USC
Lee has seen his draft stock dip due to health concerns, but is hell when he’s well as a pass catcher and a return man. Finding the ball is no problem and has suburb hand-eye coordination. Had a disappointing 2013 though sue to a knee injury. That could be a concern at the pro level since the body takes even more of a beating.
The Pelicans 2013-14 season is mercifully in the books, as the team finished 12th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference with a record of 38-48. I say mercifully not because they were an abomination to watch, but because I fear the team would lose even more guys if they kept playing, as the injury bug was more like an injury plague this year.
Julius Caesar was warned “beware the Ides of March”; well, it would have been nice if someone had given head coach Monty Williams a heads-up about what he was in store for back in January.
It all started with forward Ryan Anderson going down with a freak injury. Anderson fell on his back and suffered a herniated disc. Done for the year.
Then, point guard Jrue Holiday followed about a week later, with a stress fracture in his right tibia. Ultimately, Holiday was ruled out for the entire season after 34 games played.
We aren’t done with January yet, as center/forward Jason Smith would be the month’s final victim of season-ending injuries. He hurt his shoulder, and like those previously mentioned, needed surgery and would not suit up again this year.
New Orleans core five - Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Holiday and Anderson - played a total of 12 games together.
Even then, Davis and Gordon would join the infirmary later in the season. AD was rested the final 5 games of the year due to back spasms, while Gordon’s last game was in late March as it was revealed he needed arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
Injures are part of the game as we all know, but this season for the Pelicans was just insanity. With so many players hurt, the team obviously struggled with back-ups now being forced to play starters’ minutes. Wouldn’t you know it, the “Fire Monty” chatter began and is still going.
But I ask, how is it his fault? Being critical of Monty’s lineups while his resources are so limited due to injuries is just unfair to me. You have to give Monty another shot to prove he is the guy for the job with a healthy line-up. He is considered one of the better coaches in the NBA, after all. If he wasn’t, Team USA would not have brought him on as an assistant. Besides, who are you going to replace him with?
If you ask Monty, he certainly isn’t losing sleep over his job status with the Pelicans.
"That's not something we talk about at all," Williams said. "Mickey Loomis is the only guy that I answer to when it comes to that kind of stuff, and it's not something that comes up. We are in a production business and you have to produce. And we all know that.”
Looking at what the Pelicans need to add next season, the position that jumps to the forefront is center. The team needs a big guy that is physical down low and can own the paint. The Pels ranked 22nd overall in rebounding out of 30 ballclubs this past season.
Don’t expect the draft to help, since the team will likely not have a 1st round draft pick. Philadelphia owns it unless a miracle occurs and the Pelicans end up in the top 5 after the NBA draft lottery. Don’t hold your breath, though, as those odds are at only 4%.
So that means free agency. Who are some options that will be available on the open market this summer, you ask? I won’t lie; the position is thin with Marcin Gortat, Andrew Bynum and Greg Oden really being the only names worth mentioning and that isn’t saying much. GM Dell Demps may be going overseas to find a big man or make a trade. Only Anthony Davis is untouchable.