OAKLAND, Calif. -- New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry believes star center Anthony Davis has character traits similar to those of one of the best big men to ever play the game -- Tim Duncan. While discussing the camaraderie that has defined his team's successful season, Gentry made the comparison to the San Antonio Spurs low-maintenance superstar.
"I think any time you have a superstar player like A.D. -- I think he's got like Tim Duncan DNA," Gentry said before the Pelicans Game 4 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals. "He's just a low-maintenance guy, loves being around the guys, likes being part of the team and just wants to be one of the guys that's part of the team. And I think any time you have that, you're probably going to have a closeness on your team."
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who played with Duncan in San Antonio, agreed with the premise of Gentry's assessment.
"I know what Tim would say, Tim would say that 'He jumps way higher than I ever did,' " Kerr said before Game 5. "Anthony is much more athletic than Tim was, but I see the similarities in the demeanor.
"Timmy is one of the all-time greats. A Top 10 player of all time, no matter how you slice it. Anthony is just kind of entering his prime now, so he has a ways to go to reach Tim's stratosphere. I understand what Alvin is talking about. He's a tremendous talent. ... I don't know him very well, but he's one of those guys that jumps out you that he's got 'it.'."
When told of Gentry's sentiments, Davis said Duncan was one of the players he looked up to coming into the league.
"I definitely looked up to [Duncan]," Davis said after Tuesday's shootaround. "He's always calm and collective. He never gets rattled. He gets to the spots he wants to get to on the post. That's how I try to play. I watched a lot of film on him, the way he did stuff, even when we played against them, he would always tell me stuff -- 'calm down a little bit,' all this stuff. So I didn't know Coach said that but I always looked up to Tim Duncan, and I always wanted to be just like him."
Davis, who is averaging 29.6 points and 12.8 rebounds this postseason, carries himself with the same kind of calmness on and off the floor that earned Duncan so much respect within the league.
"When he first came to the league, I used to watch those games," Davis said. "Stuff he was doing in the post, face-up, get to his spots on back downs. The jumper he had from face-up, all that stuff. And then his demeanor as well, he never got rattled, no matter what it was. If it was double teams or if he was missing shots or whatever, he kept playing, kept playing the right way. Of course a lot had to do with Pop (Gregg Popovich) being there and helping him out, but just seeing that helps me a lot."
Gentry believes the demeanor of both men has helped create winning cultures within their teams. Gentry has praised both Davis and veteran guard Rajon Rondo for organizing team dinners throughout the season that have helped bring the Pelicans together.
"I only say that because I think those guys are a little bit of the same personality," Gentry said during a Monday conference call. "I think their game is similar. Tim is maybe a little bit better back-to-the-basket guy. AD's probably a little bit better face-up guy. I'm just saying that just because of the similarities in personality and stuff and the similarities in games."
In the short term, Davis knows he and his teammates have to approach Tuesday's Game 5 against the Warriors with a different mindset.
"This is our Game 7," Davis said. "We're just approaching it as one game. Win one game, one game at a time. This is a game we have to win or our season is over, so we know what's on the line, and we're going to leave it all on the floor tonight."
Davis said the group hasn't had to talk about the "Game 7" mentality.
"I think we just know," Davis said. "If you lose, the season's over. Of course we don't want that to happen. We're going to come out, leave it all on the floor; guys could play 45, 46, 47, 48 minutes. Whatever it is, we're going to go out there and just compete and try to get this game."