clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Alvin Gentry is mismanaging the lineups of the New Orleans Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans head coach is proving to be one of the worst lineup managers in the NBA -- he has routinely failed to put the best product on the floor!

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Midway through the season, the Pelicans record stands at 15-27. If you like excuses, there have been plenty of them to go around, from injuries to learning a new system. Despite them, the coaches have to remain accountable because they routinely decide upon the lineup combinations and rotations, and with the roster largely healthy since December, they've had more than enough time to deduce how best to allocate playing time. Just as a season ticket holder, one who expected a special season will not see a refund, Alvin Gentry and his staff should not be allowed a hall pass.

Nearly two weeks ago, I made mention of the Pelicans possessing a core of players that are rivaling any 3-man lineup in the league. Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis have put up such impressive numbers that the front office should be contemplating numerous scenarios designed on keeping the trio together for a very long time.

3-man #'s ORtg DRtg NetRtg FG% 3FG% ast/tov Opp. FG% Opp. 3FG% Opp. ast/tov
Davis-Evans-Holiday 117.3 94.5 +22.9 48.8% 40.8% 1.81 40.4% 27.6% 1.00

They sizzle on offense and stifle opponents. In 144 minutes, the group looks like world-beaters. In fact, look how favorably the trio compares to some of the best threesomes in the NBA today.

3-man #'s ORtg DRtg NetRtg FG% 3FG% ast/tov Opp. FG% Opp. 3FG% Opp. ast/tov
Curry-Green-Thompson 119.8 95.8 +24.0 52.3% 46.3% 2.04 40.9% 31.6% 1.42
Irving-James-Love 122.0 101.7 +20.3 50.0% 40.0% 2.29 46.3% 39.7% 2.08
Durant-Ibaka-Westbrook 117.0 99.3 +17.7 50.5% 37.7% 1.73 42.1% 35.3% 1.37
Griffin-Paul-Redick 112.8 99.5 +13.3 50.1% 40.7% 2.19 43.3% 33.5% 1.48
Duncan-Leonard-Parker 106.8 95.7 +11.1 47.6% 38.5% 1.86 42.8% 37.9% 1.87

With a record of 36-2, the Golden State Warriors are the gold standard. Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are the core of that group, one that no one would dare to break up this season, or likely at any time down the road. However, it could be argued that Davis-Evans-Holiday compare more favorably with them than any of the other listed 3-man lineups.

The problem, though, is that Alvin Gentry doesn't think very highly of New Orleans triumvirate. Have a look at how many minutes the best 3-man lineups play in comparison and how much of their overall playing time is spent together. The percentage of minutes together is a close approximation.

3-man #'s Minutes/Game Total Minutes Percentage of Available Minutes Together 4th Quarter Minutes/Game
Davis-Evans-Holiday 9.7 156 34.3% 5.9
Curry-Green-Thompson 26.8 1046 84.6% 5.8
Irving-James-Love 17.4 261 64.9% 4.9
Durant-Ibaka-Westbrook 26.6 1012 77.1% 6.5
Griffin-Paul-Redick 25.7 616 73.3% 5.6
Duncan-Leonard-Parker 21.9 722 86.1% 5.2

The only positive from the comparisons above are fourth quarters -- everything else is rotten in the state of Denmark!

Some may be quick to point out that Holiday was under restrictions in December, and that's true, but then explain why the coveted trio is averaging a mere 8.9 minutes here in January, a month where Holiday no longer has a purported restriction limit. In New Orleans last game without Eric Gordon, the threesome managed only 5.6 minutes of playing time together. Are you kidding me? Why the hell are the numbers trending the wrong way, Alvin?

I've been practically begging for Holiday to join the starting lineup since his restrictions were lifted following the New Year. Simply put, he's the Pelicans most important player next to Anthony Davis; his two-way abilities are unparalleled among the rest of the guards on the roster.

For those still clinging to Holiday's numbers as a reserve, they should mean little by now. First, he is a completely different player than from the version we saw back in November. His aggressiveness, comfort levels and confidence are notably more apparent. Second, he was on one hell of a hot streak at the start of December.

However, I don't need for you to take my word for it, just examine the numbers. In his first 13 games off the bench, he shot better than 50% from the floor eight times and had a 49.3 FG% overall and a 47.1% from three-point range. In his last 9 games, he's accomplished the feat just twice and the field goal percentages have dropped to 41.0% and 26.9% from deep.

Even if Holiday remains a reserve or say you're on board with a, "he's in a good place right now" Gentry mindset, it fails to explain why the trio doesn't spend more time together. A top-notch reserve should spend a fair amount of minutes with the team's best starters. For instance, take the 2008-09 Spurs. Manu Ginobili started just 7 of 44 games, but he, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan averaged 15.4 minutes a game. Super-sub James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant averaged 18.8 minutes a game for the 2011-12 Thunder.

To take things a step further, the Pelicans have a renowned finishing five that includes Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson. Although Gordon is lost for the next 4-6 weeks, it doesn't downplay the fact this group spent less than 1 minute together for the month of January.

Since the band was assembled several years ago, people have clamored the offensive firepower of Anderson-Davis-Evans-Gordon-Holiday could be special. They were right, but this season they have shown signs of morphing into a legitimate two-way lineup.

Anderson-Davis-Evans-Gordon-Holiday ORtg DRtg NetRtg FG% 3FG% Pace Opp. FG% Opp. 3FG% Minutes/Game
2013-14 123.5 119.8 +3.7 52.3% 36.8% 96.69 49.7% 41.7% 7.6
2014-15 118.5 115.3 +3.1 48.2% 42.3% 97.46 48.9% 40.9% 7.1
2015-16 123.0 92.7 +30.2 55.7% 37.5% 103.52 40.4% 23.8% 3.3

Alvin Gentry supposedly understands offense. He preaches pace. The NBA moves towards smaller and smaller lineups each passing season. Yet, even the traditionalist Monty Williams gave this lineup more minutes per game than Gentry.

It's just mind-boggling, especially considering how poorly the Pelicans have played for most of 2015-16. Gentry had his uptempo high-scoring machine AND there was a glimmer the team was no longer a pushover on the defensive end of the floor. At the very least, this group deserved plenty more minutes to prove it was nothing more than a mirage!

With Eric Gordon sidelined for the foreseeable future, the finishing five experiment has been put on hold once more. However, Alvin Gentry has a golden opportunity to give the Davis-Evans-Holiday combination a lot of run together. The numbers suggest the trio are game-changers. Will he ever start employing this grade-A group on a more consistent basis?