« Removing the Keystone
Game On: Washington Wizards at New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans return home after playing about one half of basketball in Miami last night to take on the Wizards. The two teams enter tonight’s contest with similar records, as New Orleans (15-18) trails Washington (15-17) by just one game in the loss column. That being said, the Wizards have posted a 2-8 record vs. Western Conference teams this season, whereas the Pelicans are 8-4 against the Eastern Conference. Washington enters tonight’s game as winners of 6 out of their last 10 and a mostly healthy lineup, while New Orleans returns home after a 1-3 road trip and without key floor spacer Ryan Anderson as a result of his herniated disc.
What do the Wizards do well?
Washington is pretty good at hounding opposing ball-handlers, forcing opponents into turnovers on 16.6% of possessions (7th best in the NBA). They convert these turnovers into 17.9 points per game, also in the top third of the league. Additionally, not only do the Wizards score the 5th most fast break points in the league (16.1), but they also allow the 5th fewest fast break points per game to opponents (11.6). They are also tied with the Pelicans for 5th best 3 point percentage in the NBA (38.1%), and they attempt 4.5 more per game than New Orleans. Washington achieves this high percentage largely from their success in the corners, as they are in the top third of the league in both corner 3-point attempts and percentage.
What do the Wizards do poorly?
Washington doesn’t get to the line very often, drawing the fewest fouls in the league per game (18.4) and averaging .242 free throw attempts per field goal attempt (4th lowest in the NBA). Only the Knicks and Spurs make fewer free throws on average than the Wizards’ 15.3 per game. This can be partially explained by the fact that they average the 5th fewest second chance points per game (11.4) despite being right around the middle of the pack in offensive rebound rate. Unsurprisingly given all of this prior data, Washington has attempted the 4th fewest shots at the rim in the NBA this season (though they pick their spots wisely, shooting 63.7% for the season from that distance, 5th best in the league). Most importantly, though, Washington has attempted the 6th most mid-range jumpers in the league this year and make them at the 5th lowest rate.
How can the Pelicans take advantage?
- Protect the basketball and don’t allow the Wizards to get out in transition
- Bait the Wizards into attempting the mid-range shots that they love and are bad at shooting
- Chase the Wizards’ shooters out of the corners
- Avoid putting the Wizards into the bonus early
Let’s see if New Orleans can get back on track tonight with a very winnable home match-up. Enjoy the game, and go Pelicans!
Maybe it's fun or interesting -- well, perhaps only a little bit, I suppose -- for fans and writers to speculate about how Dell Demps and Monty Williams ought to be doing their jobs. But mostly it's comical. The worst idea being bandied about lately is that Coach ought to bench Eric Gordon from the starting lineup. That would be a disasterous decision that would make EJ virtually untradeable. Benching him would turn him into our Andrew Bynum. Remember how Saints Coach Jim Haslett benched QB Aaron Brooks at the end of the Hurricane Katrina season and then Brooks became a pariah that no team would trade for? At least in the NFL, Brooks' contract was unguaranteed, so even though the Saints got nothing in exchange for the man who'd been their starting QB for several years, at least they weren't stuck with a guaranteed contract. Gordon on the other hand should be the player all Pelicans fans are rooting for. We should want him to be one of the highest scorers on the team, stay healthy and keep his shooting percentages up. Otherwise, we'll have to suffer through several years of a sulking, overpaid shooting guard with a guaranteed contract and redundant skills. Go, Eric Gordon! Play great every night as a Pelicans starter during the 2013-14 season. And then -- as soon as possible -- go to another team.
Remember, the Wizards complied these stats in 22 games against the (L)Eastern Conference and 10 against the West. And they went 13-9 against fellow (L)Eastern Conference teams and 2-8 against the West. (I bet their stats against the West aren't too hot.)
While we complied our stats playing about 10 games against the (L)Eastern Conference and about 23 games against the West.
Hoping to see Jrue get back on track and Evans get more minutes. I believe Tyreke can CARRY (pun!) the Pels to victory.
@Come On Pelican There is a HUGE difference between "benching" Eric Gordon and "bringing him off the bench." They mean two entirely different things. I have yet to hear someone argue for sitting him with the intention of not playing him. The notion of his skill set being better suited for a 6th man role than a starting role given the Pelicans' current rotation, however, is a totally defensible argument.
@504ever I mentioned part of this in my intro to the post. It's an important caveat.
Your argument would be more appropriate for a team on the cusp of becoming competitive for a championship. The Pelicans are a long way from that. Gordon's trade value will be significantly less as a 6th man coming off the bench. It's better for the team long term to keep him in the starting lineup right now because wins and losses are irrelevant this year, and because we want him to keep playing a lot of minutes in the hope he will stay healthy, perform well and entice another team to take him off our hands.
Looking for common ground, I think we're in agreement that we'd both like to see Tyreke Evans in the starting lineup instead of Eric Gordon. I'd just prefer to see Gordon wearing another team's uniform when that happens. Until he's contracted with another team, I'm EJ's biggest fan.
I understand your rationale, but there's no reason that Gordon can't get sufficient minutes to fulfill that requirement as a sixth man. Furthermore, with that assumption of missing the playoffs in mind, I think it's important for the Pelicans to explore which rotations work best. If that means moving Gordon to coming off the bench, then so be it.