Pelicans’ Williams: Most one-and-dones strain teams

New Orleans’ Anthony Davis is the exception, through his work ethic and maturity

One of Adam Silver’s main goals as the NBA’s new commissioner is to change the rule that allows players to be eligible for the draft after one year of college.

Iconic former player Jerry West said the one-and-done rule is the reason the league’s quality of play is the worst it has even been. Legendary former player Charles Barkley agrees with former great Dominique Wilkins, also saying the rule has had an adverse affect.

New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams said players coming out too early is a problem, but he stopped short of saying the rule should be changed.

“My opinion is that most one-and-done guys are not ready for this,” Williams said. “And it’s a heck of a responsibility for an organization — the coaches and your player development people — to help that young man come along.”

Others, such as former player Tim Legler say summer basketball is much to blame. The players get exposure and experience against other good, young players, Legler said, but not the fundamental development they need.

It can make NBA coaches’ jobs harder and more frustrating.

“You’re teaching stuff, man, that guys should have learned back in the eighth and ninth grade,” Williams said. “All the coaches talk about that.

“We all talk about things that we’re teaching in the NBA that we learned back in Five-Star Basketball Camp.”

However, Williams, said, that’s often not the case with some of the top players. Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall pick in 2012, made the All-Star team this season and is considered a budding star. He is averaging more than 20 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. No player since Shaquille O’Neal in 1999-2000 has done that in a season.

“You take guys like A.D., who come in with a lot of maturity and work really hard, it’s not easy for those guys, but for whatever reason, they have more success,” Williams said.

Williams said the problems also extend to off the court. However, he’s not yet ready to change the rule.

“I don’t know if you can tell somebody when they can work,” he said. “I think there could be an area where you can fix the system to where the money isn’t guaranteed for a young guy who hasn’t earned it.”

No, thank you

With the Pelicans finishing off another losing season, guard Austin Rivers was asked if it made sense to continue trying to win games as opposed to protecting the Pelicans’ No. 1 draft pick.

That pick went to the Philadelphia 76ers in the Jrue Holiday trade, along with last year’s pick, which was Kentucky center Nerlens Noel. This year, if the Pelicans finish in the top five of losing records, they retain the pick, at least until after next season.

However, Rivers looks at a team that has a good young nucleus in Davis, Holiday, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Tyreke Evans and him. He says it’s more important to continue the development of the team and play to win than worry about retaining a draft pick, even if the Pelicans don’t have any.

“At the end of the day, our crowd deserves that,” he said. “They don’t deserve to come to the games and see us tank or anything. That’s just not the way to play basketball.”

Roberts leaves impression

For the second time this season, someone of note from an opposing team said he is impressed with the way Pelicans point guard Brian Roberts played.

“I think Brian Roberts is one of the most underrated backup point guards in the league,” Oklahoma City small forward Kevin Durant said earlier this season at the Thunder’s shootaround before playing the Pelicans.

A lot has happened since then, with Roberts, of course, becoming the starter after Holiday was lost for the season Jan. 10 with a fractured right tibia.

Milwaukee coach Larry Drew said Friday he knew going into the teams’ first meeting Feb. 12 the Bucks had to do a good job defensively on Davis, Evans and Gordon. Drew was surprised by the play of Roberts, who had 17 points — including 3-of-3 shooting on 3-point attempts — five assists and zero turnovers.

“Nobody talks a lot about him, but this guys is very, very steady,” Drew said. “He just makes things happen. Very solid.”

Net asset

The trade that brought Marcus Thornton is being considered a steal by the Brooklyn Nets and a move that has increased their hopes for the playoffs.

Since coming to the Nets in the Feb. 19 trade from Sacramento, Thornton, a Baton Rouge native and former LSU standout, has averaged 13.4 points — a tenth of a point off his career average — on 47.1-percent shooting as a valuable asset off the bench.

More importantly, Thornton has scored 25 and 20 points in two of his past three games. In the Nets’ win over Memphis on Wednesday, Thornton scored 20, going 4 of 5 on 3-pointers. During a five-minute stretch of the second quarter, he outscored the Grizzlies 15-13 after Memphis cut a 19-point lead to four.

“I feel comfortable,” said Thornton. “I still don’t know all of the plays yet, but that comes with time.

“When you have great teammates coaching you on the floor, it’s even better.”