Tony Allen has appeared in just 10 preseason minutes, is knocking on the door of 36 years of age, and will never be asked to participate in a legitimate three-point competition — but he may be the necessary stopgap for the New Orleans Pelicans starting lineup.
With Rajon Rondo slated to miss the next 4-6 weeks, Alvin Gentry has a key decision to make: who to start alongside Jrue Holiday in the backcourt?
E’Twaun Moore is the obvious answer, having started 22 games last season at shooting guard. Moreover, he drew the nod in place of Rondo this past Sunday when the Pelicans beat the Bulls. Although the results were mixed — New Orleans struggled in the first quarter and Moore wound up with six turnovers and one made three out of four attempts, one preseason game shouldn’t sway anyone in any particular direction.
Remember, the Pelicans performed best with Moore alongside the starters after the trade for DeMarcus Cousins and it wasn’t a surprise why: stronger shooting threats made a Holiday-Cousins-Davis trio a much more effective unit.
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Yet, instead of encasing Moore’s name in cement, I propose the Pelicans try and go in an entirely different direction first — the Grindfather.
Tony Allen, for all of his wonderful traits, is a deeply flawed basketball player. He can’t shoot a lick and smarter teams have exploited this weakness numerous times in the past. So why exactly should Gentry entertain this experiment?
Because the team needs to find another effective rotation player at a minimum, and Allen can best be hidden within a Chris Finch-led scheme that features two superstars and a former All-Star.
In case you missed it, Holiday, Cousins and Davis went off in the last game!!!
The New Orleans Pelicans notched their first win of the preseason on the shoulders of their Big 3. Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Jrue Holiday combined for an astounding 78 points, 29 rebounds, 15 assists, seven steals, five blocks — and knocked down four of their nine three-point attempts for good measure.
Yeah, these guys don’t need much help.
While an additional threat on the perimeter would probably be more optimal, I don’t think it’s a requisite most nights. Last year, the offense was designed to have the wings sit out wide to allow the high usage Pelicans to attack the open middle. A role player standing outside of the three-point arc had to be a threat from out there. But that’s not the plan for this season; it’s all about five guys living and breathing player and ball movement.
Tony Allen can fit into this agenda as nearly a quarter of his offensive production came via cuts with Memphis. In addition, don’t forget he could offer a dimension that the Pelicans have failed to flash consistently this preseason — offensive rebounding. Did you know Allen’s 9.6 OREB% last season was the highest of his career and put the marks of AD and Boogie to shame? Who better to have crash the glass than a high octane guy whose primary defender doesn’t pay attention to him throughout most possessions, especially when Davis and Cousins are taking the majority of shots?
Also, let’s not overlook the fact that Holiday shouldn’t have the same heavy burden at point guard as he won’t be asked to dribble the ball up the court and get the team into the offense every time down the floor. Cousins and Davis have been masquerading as guards this exhibition season, doing an excellent job of ball handling and decision making.
Lastly, Gentry wants to play Boogie and The Brow big minutes together so an Ian Clark and Moore pairing sounds like a necessary combination off the bench. Neither player alone can effectively run an offense and Jordan Crawford doesn’t appear destined for a prominent role.
E’Twaun came off the bench last season for 51 games and the head coach alluded multiple times to liking Moore off the bench.
I say give the original plan a chance.
I trust E’Twaun has gotten used to a leading role among the reserves in training camp. Plus, starting Tony Allen doesn’t in any way negate Moore from being a member of the finishing five — when a team should have their most valuable players on the floor to close out games.
We’re nearly a week away from the start of the regular season so the Pelicans have very little time to change the roles of a lot of their personnel. In plugging Allen in for Rondo, it wouldn’t alter too many things. The team would still have an offensive liability but a capable veteran defender on the floor. New Orleans wouldn’t need to make special adjustments for a player who doesn’t figure into offensive strategies. Tony is a smart veteran, who in short time should be able to discover the seams on offense, and he would be able offer the stout defensive presence the team’s identity craves early on in games.
Am I overthinking things? Maybe. But I do know that the Pelicans are going to need to be deeper than a seven-man rotation — or eight if Cheick Diallo is ready, especially playing at their desired quicker pace. Taking a long look at Tony Allen in the starting lineup doesn’t seem so ludicrous now, does it?
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