With Willie Green alerting media that more changes are the way, look for the New Orleans Pelicans rotations to look different in their matchup against the Suns in Phoenix tonight.
“I do,” Green said after yesterday’s practice. “We had a good chance to look at our team and see where we can make some adjustments. The whole goal is to try and put guys on the floor, whomever that is, that give us an opportunity to win.
“When you roll your team out and maybe we’re not getting the results that we wanted in terms of the wins, it’s an opportunity for us to go back to the drawing board and see where we can be better. We made some adjustments with Devonte’ being in the second unit, feeling like he’ll give us more punch. We’ve got to make more adjustments. More adjustments on the defensive end in our pick-and-roll coverages which we went over today.”
The head coach highlighted that after trading Nickeil Alexander-Walker away, someone needed to fill the role of a 13-14 point scorer off the bench. Graham, who had 12 points on 4-6 shooting as a reserve against the Mavericks, will remain in that role for the time being. Don’t be surprised to watch him close some games too.
However, the bigger takeaway is that Green is slated to make another change or two. If I had to guess, Jaxson Hayes getting replaced in the starting lineup and Garrett Temple losing his spot in the rotation seem likeliest.
The starting lineup from the last game (McCollum-Ingram-Jones-Hayes-Valanciunas) has posted a 146.8 defensive rating in 23 minutes. If the Pelicans are going to sacrifice some shooting on the floor for size, that number needs to be significantly better. But with 23 games remaining and the 10th seed not a sure thing, that experiment may need to be shelved.
As for Temple, what hasn’t be said? Great voice in the locker room, is a fantastic role model on professionalism, can be trusted to give effort and is a positive defender in certain matchups. However, he’s been a glaring net negative on the floor this season.
In his 1054 minutes on the floor, the Pelicans have been outscored by 333 points. In his 1788 minutes on the bench, the Pelicans have scored 144 more points than opponents.
If that stat doesn’t scream for change, nothing will.
The Suns will be without a slew of guards tonight: Chris Paul, Cam Payne and Aaron Holiday. In addition, Frank Kaminsky and Dario Saric are out.
In Phoenix’s 124-104 win over the OKC Thunder last night, Monty Williams started Devin Booker at point guard (25 points, 12 assists), with Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Cameron Johnson and DeAndre Ayton surrounding him. Will this starting lineup affect Green’s rotation? Maybe Tony Snell or Trey Murphy III draw the surprise start? Be sure to tune in to find out!
Let’s Geaux Pels!
When: February 25, 2022, 8:00 p.m.
Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans, NBA League Pass
Where to listen: ESPN 100.3 FM