Game On: Rockets @ Pelicans – and Keys to the Off-season

Published: April 16, 2014

The season ends tonight against the Rockets in a meaningless game for both teams, since the Rockets are locked into the four seed even if the lose due to owning the tie-breaker over the Trail Blazers.

Expect a lot of end of bench players to be on the court – the Rockets because they want to – the Pelicans because they have to. I’m not going to waste your time in this preview trying to give you keys to tonight’s game, because I have no idea who will play on the Rockets side at all – so it’s not possible to understand their strengths.

Instead I’m going to give you a mini Keys to the Off-season. We’ll be talking about this in more depth near free agency, but I’m going to put the three biggest weaknesses this team has in front of you now – the three places where, in my opinion the Pelicans need to focus their efforts in order to improve. These are categories – not players – the team needs to find specialists to help shore up.

Keys to the Off-season

  • Perimeter defense – The weak perimeter defense (pick and roll primarily) of this team is the lynchpin of all of its failures defensively.  Even when the team was at full strength, they were terrible at stopping players from getting into the lane.  That, in turn, forced everyone to have to rotate frantically – and too often resulted in a foul by someone scrambling to get into the play.  37.9% of opponents shots were at the rim against the Pelicans.  That is the third highest mark in the league.  You combine giving that many shots at the rim with the 2nd highest number of free throw attempts, and your defense is already a disaster. I know there is a feeling that having Jrue back will help this – and it will – but even when he was playing this team was in the bottom ten in both stats.  They need better stoppers on the wing.
  • Embrace the new NBA and its focus on the three-ball.  The Pelicans already have a stable of good shooters.  If the team is looking for a major rotation piece, it needs to make sure that the piece is not going to clog the Pelicans primary offensive weapon – Davis Pick and rolls with one of the many ball-handling guards.  Don’t get a big that has to sit by the basket.  Don’t get a wing with no outside shot who will cut to the basket and limit space.  Follow the Demps plans of multiple guards who can penetrate – but don’t get more Tyreke Evans.  The team can only have one of those on the court at a time.  Also, don’t acquire players who run pick and pops for 20-foot mid range shots. (Sorry, Jason Smith)  There is no reason this team should take the 2nd fewest number of threes in the league.  None.(Even with Anderson around, they were still bottom 10.)
  • Find a single rebounding big man for the bench.  When Davis is on the floor, this team is an average rebounding team.  When he sits, this team is a garbage rebounding team and gets destroyed.  The squad doesn’t need another Robin Lopez or Stiemsma or Ajinca or Withey.  None of those guys approach a league-average rebound rate for a big man. (Ajinca is closest)  The team needs a rebounding specialist who can come in to spell Davis for 12 minutes and not let the rebounding go to crap.

Enjoy the game tonight!


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