Each night he walks on the court, basketball reality smacks him in the face.
Pelicans center/forward Anthony Davis, who turns 24 next month, scores more than 27 points a game, grabs 12 rebounds, blocks more than two shots per game, shoots 80 percent from the free throw line and 50 percent from the field, yet his team won 21 of its first 55 games.
Of those 21 victories, six were against teams with winning records. The Pelicans had only two victories over Western Conference teams with winning records. The skills of a Hall of Fame talent are being wasted on a bad team.
After a Sunday night loss at Sacramento, the Pelicans had lost 85 of their last 136 games.
Too bad the Pelicans aren’t the Jazz. Utah has built the way small market teams should.
After seasons with 25, 38 and 40 wins, the Jazz are on pace to win more than 50.
It has taken time and patience. In the 2010 draft, the Jazz selected guard Gordon Hayward with the ninth pick. Three years later, they added post player Rudy Gobert in a draft-night trade with Denver. Gobert was the 27th pick in the draft.
Last summer, Utah added guard George Hill in a three-team trade that included Atlanta and Indiana. Hill was averaging nearly 18 points a game, up six points a game from a year ago.
Patience is a trait Pelicans general manager Dell Demps never seems to display. He matched a $58 million offer sheet for a player who clearly did not want to play here (Eric Gordon), sent two first-round picks to Philadelphia for (then-injured) guard Jrue Holiday, traded a first-round pick to Houston for center Omer Asik (and then signed him to a lucrative contract extension).
Asik and fellow center Alexis Ajinca languish on the bench while earning more than $14 million.
With each loss and each bad decision, it is not hard to envision Davis playing elsewhere. Eight days before the All-Star game, forward Kevin Durant made his return to Oklahoma City. Durant departed last July in free agency for Golden State. His departure wasn’t stunning. He wanted to win a championship. So, he tuned out the boos and the thousands of fans wearing “K-oward” T-shirts and scored 34 points. Durant’s 30-foot three pointer late in the fourth quarter clinched a victory.
The Thunder’s Russell Westbrook was superb in defeat, scoring 47 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out eight assists. But, as good as Westbrook was, his team lost at home by 16 points.
It was a sobering dose of hardwood reality.
If anyone understands how Russell Westbook feels, it is Anthony Davis. And, you cannot blame Davis for arriving at the conclusion Kevin Durant did last summer.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at email@example.com.