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New Orleans Pelicans attempting to maximize #DoItBig strategy throughout games

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A much greater emphasis on offensive rebounding and a possible golden opportunity for Cheick Diallo? Pinch me!

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Instead of conforming to a league whose adulation continues to grow by the day for small ball, the New Orleans Pelicans hope to flaunt their physical advantages as often as possible this upcoming season.

The Pelicans offensive game plan will consist of a different script than much of the rest of their brethren in the league, but this alone isn’t breaking news. Alvin Gentry is already on record for stating that the team would be foolish to not try and take advantage of their larger size against smaller competition. What’s different now is it appears the Pelicans might push all of their chips into the middle on this #DoItBig strategy.

During the first few days of training camp, we’ve learned that not only will Gentry play Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins together as much as possible, the coaching staff and players are on board with the idea of making offensive rebounding a greater priority, and when one of the two superstars is out of the game, the team tries to maintain their larger identity.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

“That’s what we want to try to do,” said Gentry after practice today. “There are so many teams playing this small ball that we want to try and have an advantage some way. Well, our advantage is going to have to be we have big guys that we can play that can guard small ball.”

Last season, the Pelicans were poor at grabbing their own misses, ranking 29th in offensive rebounding percentage, but this was by design. New Orleans rarely sent multiple players to crash the offensive glass so as to limit easy scoring opportunities for opponents.

The strategy worked, and we can assume this made Darren Erman a very happy man. The Pelicans defensive efficiency jumped 19 spots within the span of one year, and a big reason for this was because the team was in better position to defend following their own makes and misses.

But some good things must come to an end.

With the Pelicans lacking a similar amount of outside shooters as most other good teams in the league, they need to strive to pick up points elsewhere. One idea is to increase the number of shot attempts by getting multiple looks on a single possession. Although the league is moving away from this traditional philosophy, the Grizzlies and Thunder have proven in recent years that a living on the offensive glass can still be a successful strategy.

I know what you’re thinking: If the Pelicans start sending waves of players toward the rim, it’ll significantly worsen the defense by making it more vulnerable. Don’t be so sure of this outcome.

“You’ve got two big guys down there who are going to offensively rebound and probably take the shot too,” said Jrue Holiday. “I know me and {Ron}Do, we just got to get back, and from there in transition we have to talk.”

Don’t you like the odds of a healthy Holiday and a fully engaged Rondo slowing down an opponent’s attack long enough for the rest of the team to get back? Moreover, Holiday admitted the Pelicans shouldn’t ignore their size advantage because it’s a valuable weapon.

“For sure, for sure. I don’t really see anybody stopping DeMarcus, and Anthony dunked on like three of us yesterday.”

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Another interesting by-product of the Pelicans seeking to maintain a size advantage throughout games is Cheick Diallo will be given a chance to make the rotation. Although it’s much too early to tell if Diallo will handle the challenge, it’s great to hear the Pelicans coaching staff is at least exploring this option.

“You know, I don’t know,” said Gentry. “I think a lot of it is going to be on how we stick him in the game early, how he’s able to adjust to that and how he does. But he’s determined to be in the rotation, and if he keeps up the work that he’s doing, there’s no reason why I don’t think he won’t be.”

After viewing just two practices, Diallo’s presence in the paint has been obvious — despite sharing the floor with Davis and Cousins. The 15-pound increase of muscle mass looks to be paying dividends, and what’s more, Diallo appears to be displaying a greater sense of awareness on offense. No longer is he just hoisting up a shot on every touch.

“But this year I feel so confident and I’m ready 100%.”

If Diallo can prove he possesses the necessary defensive chops to guard bigs and smalls over the final three weeks of the preseason schedule, the Pelicans will be in prime position to do-it-big to the rest of the league on demand. Sure this idea is a little far-fetched at the moment, I know, but you’ve got to be happy with New Orleans trying to stick to a direction that always maximizes their strengths.