Friday, December 11, 2015

How to improve the Pelicans this year

Working with the stats from, and

I took a cheap (and by cheap I mean easy, not unjustified) shot at the Pelicans management earlier, so here is how I would address their current issues.

1.  Their two best players are Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson.  It isn't close with Davis at #1, but it isn't particularly close with Anderson at @ #2.  Getting the most out of the season probably means getting these two guys on the court together. 

2.  Eric Gordon is a bad player.  He has managed to get back to being a functional offensive player after some rough injuries, but functional isn't cutting it (besides the fact that you are dumping 33 mpg on a guy with a history of knee issues and one that hasn't made it 65 games in a season since he was a rookie).  The Pelicans don't have an issue with finding functional offensive players, they have an issue finding functional two way units. 

3. Functional offensive players (Jrue, Gordon, Tyreke, Ish) they have enough of, but they have limited quality defenders.  Why is Asik playing 14 mpg for a team that is 30th in defensive rating?  His use this year has been perplexing to say the least, and downright stupid when they committed 44 million to him in the offseason.  Asik and Davis are an imperfect fit, but they are so obviously better together than either alone right now for the 'Cans. 

4.  What is Jrue doing with a 26% usg rate?  He has never earned this type of responsibility, and his best efficiency years came with less responsibility.  

Solution:  Lineup of Jrue/Tyreke/Anderson/Davis/Asik should get heavy mins.  "Anderson can't defend the 3!" is the refrain.  Well, Anderson has spent basically no time at the 3 this year and NO is dead last in drtg.  This is not a major concern going in since it is unlikely to get significantly worse on that end of the floor.  To cover for this hole you get a + defender in Asik on the floor, Davis is a terrific help defender (and can take some SFs sometimes) and both Jrue and Tyreke are big for their position which limits some switching issues.  It is not perfect, but the team is heavily flawed as it is.  As far as the best case scenario goes it gets your two best offensive players and your two best defensive players out there, and Jrue doesn't need to use a quarter of this squad's touches.  It has two good 3 pt shooters, two ball handlers and a good offensive rebounder (Pelicans are 2nd last in oreb%, getting Asik more mins should boost that). 

This certainly seems better than the rumored trade for Morris in terms of risk (if it doesn't work you can change rotations again). 

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