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Dreadful Basketball . . oh and Game On @ Utah

Published: November 13, 2013

Tonight the Pelicans go into Utah – and I have no idea if they are going to win or lose.  Utah hasn’t won a game yet – indeed are losing by 14 points a game – and I don’t have any confidence that the Pelicans are going to win.

It’s not the back to back.  It’s not the stylish hair of Gordon Hayward or impending return of the fabulous Marvin Williams to full strength.

It’s the appalling lack of discipline this Pelicans squad plays with.

Last year the team had less physically gifted players – but the offense actually ran.  Players cut where they were supposed to, screened where they were supposed to, swung the ball when they were supposed to.  The team was so slow that it only periodically generated good shots, but they had a plan.  I could watch that team and appreciate the offense even while groaning about how slowly the team executed. (they really couldn’t turn a corner on the P&R)

It’s different this year.  I’m close to hating watching this squad – and it has the most exciting player New Orleans has seen since CP3.

All three guards free-lance whenever they want, breaking plays and attacking.  This sort of chaos can be good – and Gordon frequently turns it into something productive – but it destroys the offense when it happens as often as it does in a Pelicans game.  On the last podcast I bemoaned the lack of plays that result in the ball swinging around the perimeter for open looks.  Well, last night against the Lakers I watched to see why – and it boiled down to players simply not moving the ball.  Jason Smith took 4 of his patented jumpers when he had an open three point shooter on the wing.  Eric Gordon caught and drove 3 times when a swing would have found Jrue Holiday on the opposite wing with space.  Jrue Holiday turned down four chances to swing the ball to an open teammate. (though I can’t blame him because three times he was deciding whether to drive or pass to Aminu in the corner)

You watch the Spurs, they move the ball.  You watch Miami and they move the ball.  For the Pelicans – Jason Smith shoots, Gordon drives – but  Jrue, Tyreke, Davis, and Aminu dribble once – then shoot or attack.  No pass.  And for those last four, the dribble wastes advantage by not attacking against a scrambling defense – and the shot is typically mid-range because of the dribble.  Sometimes the player can still manufacture something – but it’s not good basketball.

Lastly – our guards need to stop getting in trouble on drives, leaping in the air and trying to pass.  Players get cut off trying to get to the rim.  It happens. The guard driving needs to understand they have to stop, plant their feet, turn away from the defender and wait for their teammates to slide and help them out.  The rest of the Pelicans need to understand that if one of their guards go free lance, they need to slide along the three point line to give them outlets – and prepare to cut.  If free-lancing is going to be this big a part of the offense – it has to be planned for and supported.  Right now, it is not.

So keys to the game:

  • Swing the ball
  • Talk on the pick and roll.  the Pelicans keep getting torched as the let either the guard or the big man get freely to the rim on pick and rolls.  Jordan Hill looked like an All-star last night.  The pick and roll is hard to defend, which is why it is used – but the Pelicans can’t have both defenders commit to the same player over and over and over again.  Talk!
  • Play with high energy.  This team can compensate(and for the most part, has been) for its porous defense by playing with energy and continuing to clean the defensive glass and get turnovers.  They have been good at that – that needs to continue.

Enjoy the game.


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