Last season about this time, when asked if he thought power forward Anthony Davis should be chosen the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, coach Monty Williams shrugged.
Williams said he leaves the type of thing to those who vote, that his interest was on preparing the team.
After the Pelicans practiced Thursday, however, Williams was touting Davis, an All-Star this season, for postseason recognition. A lot of it.
“I’ve not seen anybody go from where he was last year to, I think, where he should be in Defensive Player of the Year conversation, Most Improved (Player) and All-NBA.
“That’s a huge leap to me for a guy who last year wasn’t in that position. A lot of that was me holding him back, but he has made a huge leap.”
Williams said he has seen other players show improvement as much as Davis has, “but they’re not All-Stars.”
“Usually, its guys who are like role players who are on the verge of being out of the league,” Williams said. “And then they make a name for themselves and become a rotation player.”
Williams said Davis’ play this season has made him rethink his position concerning promoting players for awards. In January, he often said Davis should be selected as an All-Star, because he felt it was well-deserved. He said he even contacted Western Conference coaches concerning voting for Davis as a reserve.
That was a complete change from last season, even earlier this season.
“I’m so this way that a lot of that stuff is on the periphery for me,” Williams said. “But I also understand the responsibility of guys’ careers and their goals, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of our team. And the way he goes about his business, it makes it easy to talk about him.”
With the team out of playoff contention, Williams said he’s still not at the point where he will experiment with lineups.
However, he does want to look at some players, with an eye toward next season, he said, and rookie center Jeff Withey is one of the players primarily on his mind.
“It’s just where we are, and I have a responsibility to look at everything,” he said. “As much as I want to win games, I know I have to develop a couple of more guys, and Jeff Withey is probably one of the guys I want to see more of.”
Practice makes perfect
The Pelicans shot 22 of 22 on free throws against Memphis on Wednesday. It was the second-most free throws made without missing one in franchise history.
And oddly, the last time New Orleans made all of its free throws in a game came against the Grizzlies, going 21 of 21 on April 15, 2012.
Told about Wednesday’s perfect performance from the stripe, point guard Brian Roberts looked surprised.
“I wasn’t aware,” he said.
Then, he flashed a look that showed it seemed to make sense.
“We’ve been shooting a little bit more free throws in practice and in shoot-arounds,” Roberts said. “So, maybe that’s a trend that has helped us out in games. I didn’t realize we didn’t miss a free throw last game, but that’s pretty good. So we have to keep shooting free throws in practice; that’s obviously helped us.”