On Monday evening, the New Orleans Pelicans will face the Chicago Bulls in Anthony Davis' hometown. Both franchises made coaching changes during the off-season and have promised to dial up the speed of their games.
Under the watchful eye of Alvin Gentry, the Pelicans have spent a good deal of the exhibition season racing up and down the floor. In fact, they currently rank second in the league in pace, trailing only the Boston Celtics.
Now for the bad news: the shots have not been falling. At all. The Pelicans have the lowest effective field goal percentage in the league at 41.7%. That figure even places them behind all international competition that has bravely volunteered to play against NBA teams this preseason. Yup, Haifa Maccabi Haifa, losers to the Los Angeles Lakers by 43 points last night, have a stronger eFG% than the Pelicans.
A significant amount of blame can be attributed to the non-guaranteed contract players. Collectively, the group is having trouble putting the ball through the rim. Although Chris Douglas-Roberts has been solid, the owner of the next highest FG% is Bryce Dejean-Jones, with an anemic 35.7%. Maybe Jeff Adrien should be lauded for having zero field goal attempts in 32 minutes of action?!
The troubling part of the team's shooting woes, though, is that four regular rotation players have gotten off to extremely cold starts. Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Norris Cole and Dante Cunningham have each made less than 30% of their FGA. Curiously, both Anderson and Gordon came out of training camp as the two Pelicans looking the most ready to start the regular season.
The Bulls are in a similar situation as they have also had some difficultly adjusting to a new head coach and system. Chicago has been running at a decent clip (11th in pace) without much success (26th in eFG%).
However, it should be noted that Fred Hoiberg and company have been without their starting point guard. On the first day of practice, Derrick Rose suffered a left orbital fracture.
What's new, right?
Well, I should probably mention that Rose is set to resume physical activity in a couple of days. That's more than what we can say for either Omer Asik or Alexis Ajinca.
According to Gentry, star players don't see much action until the final 2 or 3 games of the preseason. Thus, if New Orleans is going to break out of their shooting funk in Chicago, it's going to have to be a team effort.
This could especially ring true if Gordon happens to miss the game due to back spasms, as reported to be the case on Sunday. Hopefully, this turns out to be nothing more than sleeping in an uncomfortable position, but knock on wood, it is Gordon we're talking about.
Hey, at least a preseason game will finally be televised!