The Pelicans enter Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal against the Warriors on Saturday believing they can knock off the defending NBA champions and win the series.
While describing what it’s like playing against another team that likes to get up and down the floor, New Orleans star Anthony Davis set the tone for the rest of the series with his response.
“It’s fun,” Davis said after Friday’s practice at Oracle Arena. “We know that we can beat them. We’ve done it in the regular season. And we’ve been in every game that we lost [against them], so we know that we’re a good matchup against these guys and we’ve got a lot of confidence in ourself. Anytime they score, we know they’re going to score and make shots, it’s tough, we just got to get the ball out fast and push it down the floor and try to [go] quicker.”
For Davis, the series serves as a personal measuring stick in regards to just how much his game continues to evolve against the very best.
“It’s an opportunity to beat the world champs,” he said. “These guys are the defending champs, and to come in and try to beat them in a seven-game series is going to be fun, and that’s all we’re thinking about. Think about Game 1, win Game 1, and go from there. But it’s a great opportunity for everybody to add to their resume, to try to go out here and beat the world champs.”
Since then, a steady trickle of Aussie and Kiwi talent has been snapped up by NFL franchises.
In 2016, Victorian Adam Gotsis from Georgia Tech was taken at Pick No. 63 — the highest selection of any Australian in NFL Draft history.
But Auckland-born defensive tackle Stephen Paea was taken even earlier at No. 53 in 2011 out of Oregon State and is the highest NFL draft pick of any Kiwi.
Last year, the only Aussie and Kiwi representation in the NFL came from undrafted free agents but as the draft unfolds this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there may be some new hopefuls from Down Under who are signed to an NFL team in 2018.
Fresh from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last month, the Sydney native and 2017 Ray Guy Award Winner will look to add to a long list of Aussie punters who have been through the NCAA college system and come out the other side with one of the 32 punting jobs offered in the NFL.
Dickson’s career at the Longhorns spanned across three seasons and concluded with the Most Valuable Player Award in the Texas Bowl against Missouri in December – an award that previous NFL draftees Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton and Leonard Fournette also have in their trophy cabinets.