Next to Anthony Davis, the New Orleans Pelicans have witnessed a lot of inconsistent play from the rest of the team’s big men on the roster.
According to the HoopsStats website, the Pelicans front court ranks 25th (-11.4) in efficiency recap difference. This essentially means that opposing front lines have combined for a lot more points, rebounds and all other basic stats than New Orleans. Considering the fact that Davis is averaging 31.6 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.8 steals and 3.0 blocks, that’s troubling news.
The problem has come on the defensive end. The Pelicans front line is giving up 65.2 points (8th worst), 39.6 rebounds (league worst) and 12.8 assists (league worst). It indicates an insufficient amount of resistance, and in general, the entire team is responsible for giving up too many points in the paint (46.8 — 3rd worst) because opponents are getting too many shots inside of it (41.2 FGA — 2nd worst).
Since the defensive breakdowns and missed rebounding assignments are not probable to cease overnight, and if winning remains one of the top priorities, the Pelicans could benefit immediately from the addition of another warrior in the trenches. In case he’s slipped your mind, New Orleans does possess a prototypical energetic, tenacious high-flyer sitting on the end of the bench, and guess what, Cheick Diallo made it a priority to focus on his activity level during the offseason.
Did you catch what Drew Hanlen said at the start of this video clip from Whistle Sports?
“That’s what I want. That’s what I want. We need you to be uptempo; we need to be in the best shape out of anybody in the draft. That’s what you’re going to be, you’re going to be an energy and effort guy. We’ve gotta have you in tip-top shape. I know it sucks, but the old saying — hate me now thank me later — that’s big time what the drill was about. You know what I mean: it sucks now, but it’s going to be beneficial later.”
For the most part, the team’s energy and effort levels have been sound, and noticeably more evident than a year ago. However, results indicate the front court needs to improve further. An 0-5 start and some worrisome accompanying statistics demand the Pelicans explore alternate routes.
For instance, it makes sense to start sending more players to the offensive glass. Although many denied scoring points would be a factor in preseason, a 98.2 points per game average through five games begs to differ, especially at the Pelicans quick pace. The offense needs to start relying on more than just a hope that shots will start finding the bottom of the net with greater propensity. So, extending possessions and creating second chance points opportunities should be at a premium because the lowest eFG% in the league and 2nd-lowest offensive rebounding rate mix like oil and water.
Giving Cheick Diallo, who shined in summer league play, some minutes isn’t a bad place to start, especially in tonight’s matchup with the Phoenix Suns. In addition to their style of play, the fact that Dante Cunningham will miss the game because he was suspended for one game for an alcohol-related offense presents a golden opportunity for the coaching staff.
Kevin made a plea to give Diallo more run during the opening week of the season, but with more legitimate reasons in support now, why not give the raw rookie a few minutes or so each half?