Ahead of tonight’s matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies, Josh Hart had an interesting quote related to winning effort from this morning’s shootaround.
Josh Hart: "A lot of people say they want to win, but they don't want to do the dirty work. They don't want to crack back and get rebounds, play defense. If you really want to win, you're going to do those things. You can tell who wants to win by what they do on the court."— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) February 16, 2021
The New Orleans Pelicans have not only struggled to defend the three-point line with any consistency this season, there have been far too many moments within games where it was discernible to see an opponent putting forth greater effort in other areas as well.
Sometimes the problem has been related to scheme — not surprising to understand as the youthful roster hasn’t ingrained Stan Van Gundy’s principles yet, but at other times, the issue has seemed to directly stem from a simple lack of hustle.
Well, in quickly perusing player game logs, several of Eric Bledsoe’s numbers immediately jumped out at me, namely where has his prodigious steal rate vanished to and what’s up with his 64.8 FT% on the season?
Just noticed that Eric Bledsoe has recorded a total of two steals over his last 11 games. Remarkably low considering that he's averaging 1.4 steals a game in his NBA career.— Oleh Kosel (@OlehKosel) February 17, 2021
Also, what's up with Bledsoe's 64.8 FT% this season? He's got a 79.0 FT% for his career. He struggled from the charity stripe in his first few NBA seasons, but posted a 81.2 FT% with the Suns and a 78.0 FT% with the Bucks.— Oleh Kosel (@OlehKosel) February 17, 2021
Small sample size caveats apply, but considering that many of us have questioned Bledsoe’s effort levels within games of late, it’s fair to wonder if he’s just not happy in New Orleans. Maybe he would overwhelmingly prefer playing for another team sooner rather than later.
With Van Gundy telling pregame media not to expect any changes to tonight’s starting lineup, I’m going to closely be watching Bledsoe’s energy and focus against the Grizzlies. If it’s noticeably absent again, something’s going to have to give soon, right?
For more on tonight’s contest, please have a look at Jamile’s preview. Also, in case you missed it, David Fisher’s article advocating for the Pelicans to make several trades involving their backcourt is a timely read.
Who: New Orleans Pelicans (11-15) at Memphis Grizzlies (11-11)
When: February 16, 7:00 p.m. Central
Where to watch: Fox Sports New Orleans, TNT
Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM