Four games into the losing streak: that’s the margin that now separates the New Orleans Pelicans from the 8th seed and an unlikely trip to the postseason.
2016 New Orleans Pelicans Roster
Despite a horrendous 11-21 record and dropping a number of winning games, the Pelicans are still legitimately in contention. With more than
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Of the NBA schedule, with each passing day it seems possible for a Western Conference team to find a spot in the 2017 playoffs with more losses than wins.
Although the last time such an event happened was more than 20 years ago — the Timberwolves, Suns and Clippers, among others, all made the playoffs that year with record losses — it wouldn’t be too surprising to see a team break this drought. do spring Thanks to an unstoppable defense, the Trail Blazers are in free fall; The Kings are led by an unhinged conspiracy theorist, DeMarcus Cousins; and the Nuggets have the talent to move around, but they probably don’t have enough star power.
New Orleans has MVP-caliber Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday appears to be reassigned, and Tyreke Evans is back in the lineup after an 11-month layoff. Outside of Quincy Pondexter, the rest of the team is talented, eager, and unlike years past, the blue collar is a constant in the lineup.
Having so many weapons is certainly a nice change for Alvin Gentry, but there are three things in particular that, if improved, could ultimately have a bigger say in where the Pelicans end up in the standings.
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If you’ve been watching enough of Fox Sports New Orleans, you should be familiar with one of Joel Myers’ biggest complaints about the team so far: the pass defense. It seemed like with every turn on a live ball, the opposition would run it down and score at the other end.
The statistics come remarkably close to this conclusion. According to a website called Unpredictable, the Pelicans are last in points allowed after live turnovers, giving opponents a dismal 1.40 PPP. After making or losing, the defense is prone to recovery, but an offense mistake is like an automatic two- or three-point bankroll.
For example, the following play against the 76ers where Nik Stauskas hits an open three in transition.
E’Twaun Moore made the right play and got the first stop, but the rest of his teammates? Not so much. Notice how all the pellets are trying to come back – an arrow goes straight to the basket. Seriously, Tim Frazier, Omer Asik and Terrence Jones put together the perfect lineup… to keep anyone interested. This is good in a game of dominoes, but bad for a D shift.
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As soon as Frazier saw that Moore had the assignment, he had to change direction and create a lane for Philly’s open perimeter shooter. Dante Cunningham, who was in position to help on the opening drive, took a very structured route to get to the shot. Once T.J. McConnell, who depends on the pass, DC had to hit the brakes immediately, assess the location of other threats and his body to react faster.
Here’s another example, this time in the Pelicans’ recent loss to the Thunder, where Stephen Adams finished with an easy dunk off a Russell Westbrook pass.
Jrue Holiday picked up Westbrook in transition, but because of the route Anthony Davis was picking, he accidentally forced a screen on Holiday to free Westbrook. Davis made up for that mistake a second later by fighting Westbrook the rest of the way, but now it’s Holiday’s fault. Once Westbrook got it, he literally gave up the rest of the game. Holiday’s instincts should have alerted him to move toward his river rather than avoid it, and after seeing AD pick up Westbrook, he should have looked for a big layup over the middle.
As well as the defense has played in the open field, the offense hasn’t improved much, ranking 26th in the league as the Pelicans average 1.14 PPP after opposing live ball turnovers.
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One of the best examples came in the first game of the year when New Orleans hosted the Nuggets. Denver committed 24 turnovers to the Pelicans’ 11, but the rushing score differential (FBPS) was only 4 points. How can a team interested in increasing tempo manage only 15 FBPS against a bad quarter in conversion opportunities?
In addition to making opponents pay for mistakes, the same logic applies in late game situations when the score difference is 5 points or less.
During the club’s tenure, the Pelicans managed to win only 6 of 18 games. As we mentioned earlier this month, crunch time in New Orleans is code word for brick making. But did you know that it also means: put on the brakes normally? In those 6 wins, the Pelicans have 111.34 Pace; 94.90 in 12 losses!
The Pelicans are 27th in the league in eFG, but it’s not for lack of exposure. New Orleans had the 8th fewest field goal attempts and the 3rd most open field goals.
Gamethread For New Orleans Pelicans At San Antonio Spurs, Oct 29, 2016 7:00 Pm Cdt
Too many to list: Holiday, Galloway, Hield, Hill, Cunningham and Jones all have 40% field goal percentages. Even Davis isn’t completely immune as he has a 45.1% FG.
Is there a positive regression coming? Maybe. Only Galloway shot worse than the group above last season. By comparison, only 3 Pelicans shot less than 40% last season: Eric Gordon, Norris Cole and Tony Douglas.
The New Orleans Pelicans have been largely disappointed at this point, but it’s surprising that all postseason hopes haven’t been extinguished. The Western Conference is no longer an 8+ team, the Pelicans are healthier than they have been since the 2015 playoffs, and most importantly, an improvement or two in transition defense, less points, shorter time or open looks could improve the field goal percentage. way to a high success rate. About a month into the 2015-16 NBA season, New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry decided he had seen enough. His big league coaching career, which began in 1988, has turned more times than he can count. But it was never more painful than in his first 82-game marathon with the Pellies.
“This is the most disappointing season I’ve ever seen,” Gentry said in March, according to ESPN.com’s Justin Verrier. “When I left Golden State to come here, I thought it was the best job there was.”
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In one season, Gentry went from the offensive leader of the world champion Warriors to the beleaguered captain of the struggling Pelicans. New Orleans failed to build on its 2015 play and instead finished 30-52 – losing 15 more games than the previous year; according to Bleacher Report Insights, the biggest dropoff in the league last season — punctuated by a rash of injuries that limited all but two Pelicans to fewer than 70 games.
Health alone won’t right the ship, but New Orleans is using the offseason for more than just rest and recovery. A concerted effort was made to bolster the ranks around franchise anchor Anthony Davis: The Pelicans got their first first-round pick since dealing Davis in 2012, then prioritized future prospects over exciting signings in free agency.
That newfound stamina could finally help build a rivalry, but does the Big Easy have reason to hope for a quick relief?
Buddy Hield is by no means a risk-free addition. He will turn 23 in December, so his ceiling may be lower than most lottery picks. Plus, he needs to prove he’s more than a three-point specialist by sharpening his offensive creativity and expanding his impact on the defensive end.
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But the sixth overall pick brings hope and potential for a quick addition to an organization that needs both. If he looks anything like the Oklahoma Sooners’ Buddy Buckets last year — averaging 25 points on 50.1 percent shooting and 45.7 percent from three — New Orleans may have the key to unlocking Gentry’s offense and making Davis more dominant.
“I’m a scorer. I can shoot the ball a lot – I like to shoot,” Hield told reporters. “And I feel like when I get there, I can open the floor for Anthony Davis and other people to come in.”
Hield takes his shots. They had just a mediocre perimeter offense last season — 15th overall in scoring, ninth in percentage — and lost two of their best players in free agency (Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson).
But those withdrawals were part of a calculated plan to improve the defense of the 28th. The free money awarded to Solomon Hill, E’Twaun Moore, Langston Galloway and Terrance Jones is aimed at strengthening
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