Pelicans coach: Anthony Davis can be one of the best players . . . ever

In assessing how good former Kentucky All-American Anthony Davis can be, his NBA coach suggested historically good.

“Obviously, I think he can be one of the all-time great players who’ve ever played in this league,” New Orleans Coach Alvin Gentry said before the Pelicans played the Sacramento Kings in Rupp Arena Saturday night.

Gentry cited Davis’ size (listed at 6-foot-10) and speed (relative to other players of his size), plus one other less obvious attribute.

“His knowledge of the game,” Gentry said. “That’s where people really don’t understand. He’s got a really good knowledge of the game for a 22-year-old.”

It’s easy to forget Davis is only 22, and would be a NBA rookie if all college players stayed in school four years.

Gentry mentioned another intangible.

“He’s just all about the team,” he said of Davis. “He’s all about winning. Usually with the great ones, that’s the first thing they think about: the team.

“When you add all those things together, barring an injury, he can be one of the best all-time great players to ever play this game.”

Gentry likened Davis to Kevin Garnett.  “Who is one of the all-time great ones,” he said.

One reason Davis figures to be better than ever this coming season was reflected in his broader shoulders and noticeably muscular upper arms. Davis has been on 15 pounds.

When asked about a stronger-looking Davis, Gentry smiled and said, “He was pretty good as a skinny guy, wasn’t he?”

Gentry has talked about Davis being more of a three-point shooting threat this season. This led to a runaway reaction.

“Everybody took it to we were going to make him Steph Curry,” the Pelicans’ coach said. “We’re not going to have him shoot 15 threes in a game or anything like that.”

Kentucky fans were to get an in-the-flesh look at the new-and-improved Davis Saturday night.

When asked how many minutes Davis would play in a relatively meaningless (except for the location) pre-season game, Gentry turned playful.

“It all depends,” he said. “If Coach Cal (UK Coach John Calipari) would have bought my dinner last night, I’d have definitely played him a lot of minutes. Now, I’ve got to decide, OK?”