September 28, 2015

METAIRIE, La. (AP) Anthony Davis decided to honor his late grandfather this offseason with a new tattoo on his upper right arm.

The artist had plenty or space with which to work, particularly along Davis' bicep, because the New Orleans Pelicans' best player has bulked up.

Davis isn't ready to promise that the additional 15 pounds of muscle will make him even more dominant that he already is, but he is cautiously optimistic.

''I feel great right now. Even just working out, I feel explosive. I feel quick,'' Davis said Monday, when the Pelicans held they're annual media day on the eve of training camp. ''When you start actually going against people and all that, it's a lot different. So I'm going to see how it is during training camp and preseason and go from there.''

At the very least, the work he put in this offseason to make his physical stature more imposing has only strengthened his credibility as a leader.

''He works incredibly hard, still, which is pretty cool to see,'' Pelicans small forward Luke Babbitt said. ''He's in the gym early, getting his work in. Mentally, just being a leader, he's really bringing it.

''Our offense is going to run through him. Our defense is going to be depending on him in a lot of ways,'' Babbitt added. ''We'll probably have the best player on the court most nights, with the exception of when we play the Cavs maybe. That's a confidence booster.''

Even if the Pelicans know better than to call Davis the equal of Cleveland's LeBron James. They also know that Davis' growth as a superstar gives them the foundation to go deeper in the playoffs than last season's first-round exit at the hands of NBA champion Golden State.

Pelicans general manager Dell Demps said Davis' weight gain - he is now at about 253 pounds - was part of a gradual, multi-year plan aimed at easing Davis' adjustment to changes in his physique while minimizing risk of injury.

''One of his strengths is his speed and quickness and jumping ability, so we didn't want to take anything away from there, but we also wanted to add core strength,'' Demps said.

New coach Alvin Gentry, an assistant with the Warriors last season, said he does not believe Davis' quickness has been affected ''at all,'' and believes his All-Star power forward will more easily hold his position in the low post on both ends of the floor.

''I don't think he'll get moved out as easily as he has,'' Gentry said.

Meanwhile, Tyreke Evans, who'll start at point guard this season, has little doubt that Davis remains quick as ever.

''I raced him the other day and I realized how fast he was,'' Evans said, adding with a grin that the result of the sprint was ''a tie.''

And with Gentry's encouragement, Davis also has worked on his 3-point shot, particularly from the corner.

''He's very capable of making that shot. It's one step back farther than where he's shooting from right now anyway,'' Gentry said.

The often jovial Davis deadpanned that he might let fly as many as 15 3s in a game, before adding more seriously, ''Whether I'm in the corner or (shooting) trailer 3s (on the break) or whatever, I'm not going to fall in love with it.

''I'm going to still be on the block and the elbows and try to work from there, and every now and then try to step out and make one,'' Davis said.

Gentry said he doesn't want to limit Davis because he's confident his star will always select his shots in the context of what is best for the team.

''It's all about the team with him. It's all about winning, so that I'm really not worried about that at all,'' Gentry said. ''He is the leader of our team and he's going to be the leading scorer.''

Notes: Demps said point guard Jrue Holiday is ''pain free,'' but will be on playing-time restrictions to open the season because of concerns for a lower leg injury which has sidelined him for much of the past two seasons. ''We're going to be cautious because for us, it's about the long term, for his career, we don't want to rush him,'' Demps said. ... When media day events ended, the Pelicans flew to West Virginia. They'll hold the first four days of training camp at the luxury Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, starting with the opening practice on Tuesday. The resort is also where the NFL's Saints have held training camp the past two years. Both New Orleans teams are owned by Louisiana billionaire Tom Benson.

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