OAKLAND — A pair of unsustainable trends have emerged for the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans through the first few weeks of the NBA season.
For the Dubs: It’s Klay Thompson, one of the best shooters in the league, shooting 19.6 percent from 3-point range.
Meanwhile, the Pels are 0-6 despite losing four of those games by fewer than four points.
What’s been especially frustrating for New Orleans has been the team’s inability to claim victory despite having one of the best players in the league in Anthony Davis.
“He’s a tremendous player,” Golden State head coach Steve Kerr said before Monday’s game. “He’s got to be frustrated with the injuries, they’ve had so many injuries over the last two years. It’s one of those things you can’t control.”
The Pelicans are playing without Jrue Holliday, who has taken a personal leave to help his wife who was pregnant and is now recovering from brain surgery to remove a tumor. They’re also missing Tyreke Evans, Quincy Pondexter and Lance Stephenson, who was waived after he tore his groin.
That’s led to a good deal of exacerbation for Davis, who said after the Pels fell to 0-4, “I’m focused on this year, trying to get a win. But it’s frustrating. Whatever we need to do, we need to do it fast.”
Both coaches emphasized how important it is to take these early setbacks in stride and to keep things in perspective as the season is still young.
For Kerr, that meant not pressing about Thompson’s shooting, especially when Klay is doing plenty of that himself.
He also expects the trend of his team being outshot by its opponents on 3-pointers to be fleeting.
“You always have to be careful with small sample sizes,” Kerr said. “You have to let this stuff play out, and I’m pretty confident that we’ll be one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the league, we have been the last two years and we have similar personnel. Adding KD, he’s probably similar to Harrison [Barnes] in terms of shooting percentage from 3. If you’re looking for efficiency, it should come eventually.”
So, what’s harder to overcome: The mental challenges of a shooting slump or a plethora of injuries?
The answer was laughably simple for Gentry.
“I love Klay to death, but I’m not worried about Klay,” said Gentry, a former Dubs assistant under Kerr. “I have enough problems on my own. The thing about Klay is that you don’t have to worry. He has the ultimate confidence. And at the end of the year, you tell me where he’s shooting from 3-points and you tell me where his 3-point percentage is, I think it will be right where it’s supposed to be.”
The first week of the season usually yields a degree of undue scrutiny, and it’s only a matter of time before Thompson has one of his red-hot nights. New Orleans persevering despite so many lost impact players would be a more impressive accomplishment.