Quick Hits

I started binge-tweeting on the site account and then realized I could make a quick post to summarize some things we are seeing with the Pelicans and their players.

1.  Anthony Davis is already a historically good offensive big man










Davis’s season at 21, as it stands, would measure up to some of the best seasons of the greatest big men of the modern NBA.  We already know about his PER (currently the highest in NBA history), but this is just another piece of evidence that Davis is a once in a generation kind of talent.  And he’s doing all this at age 21.

2.  The guards are starting to look for Davis in transition more

Davis beats everyone down the floor at an extraordinary rate, but often our guards are reluctant to throw risky passes to reward his effort.  This is changing, and I imagine some of that is coming from Monty.  It still doesn’t happen enough, but it’s happening more.

Davis is also some added bulk away from making this less of an issue.  He can beat almost any big man down the floor, and often is matched up with guards and small forwards.. but because he is not strong enough to easily establish good position, he misses some easy points.  Better position= easier passes.

We have seen it 2 years in a row in Clippers/Pelicans games: Blake Griffin is one of the few big men who can run the floor with AD.  Off of Pelican misses, Griffin sprints the floor and throws his derriere into Davis to carve out position right under the basket.  This leads to fouls and easy baskets.  With 5-10 more pounds, Davis will be better able to sprint, seal, and repeat.  It’s only going to get better.

3.  The 2nd unit’s offensive flow is better with Gal Mekel

Gal Mekel’s shot form and results are appalling, but he is a capable ball-handler and has good court vision, which allows him to get into the paint and find teammates.  The 2nd unit’s horrible flow pre-Mekel was largely a function of relying too much on Anderson’s offensive ability and Rivers’ ability to run the show.  Rivers is not a natural point guard and did not have the weapons surrounding him, which was a bad combination that culminated in a ton of poor offensive possessions.  Mekel has limitations, but having 2 guards out there to handle the ball is alleviating the pressure on Rivers and contributing to better offense.. even though Mekel is a very bad scorer.

Something to watch: Mekel’s shot is so bad that smart teams are going to sag way, way off of him, which will somewhat limit his ability to create for teammates.  This is the Tyreke effect that we see every night, but with some differences: Mekel has better ball control, is facing worse players, and is also a craftier passer than Tyreke.  Tyreke’s assists are more often created because he is a threat to score and draws help than a testament to his ability to squeeze the ball into tight spaces.  Mekel’s, conversely, are because he is able/willing to squeeze the ball into tight spaces.  There is a difference.  Oh, and obviously Tyreke is still a much better player.

But a memorandum to both players, and all Pelican players: STOP TRYING TO SQUEEZE POCKET PASSES TO ASIK.  He catches the ball low and opponents strip at the ball, and more often than not, he loses it: this is why he has such a high turnover rate for a low usage player.

Mekel was available in December for a reason, but he is an adequate player and has already helped the 2nd unit.  And please, please, please, Monty, do not put Rivers in and ask him to create by himself. Mekel or one of the starting guards should be beside Rivers at all times.

4.  Dante Cunningham is one of our best, most versatile defenders

Dante Cunningham has a 44% TS and I just don’t give a damn.  Cunningham’s energy, quickness, activity, and defensive knowledge are apparent every time he hits the floor.  He is largely a garbage man and midrange jump shooter on offense, but on defense, he has shown the ability to guard positions 1-4 in a pinch.  Cunningham also had one of my favorite plays of the year by blocking a lob attempt for Griffin.  AD tried to front Griffin, Griffin spun off and was ready to throw down a sick lob.. until Cunningham sniffed it out, rotated over, and knocked the ball out of bounds.  Cunningham has also shown an ability to fight through flare screens to get a hand in the face of 3 point shooters.  I love this guy.  He has very specific abilities and is certainly no stud on offense, but he is already my favorite bench player not named Ryan Anderson.

5.  Jrue Holiday is so much better when he turns up the aggression

To be clear, his performance against the Mavs probably isn’t sustainable: he hit a ton of jumpers, and despite being a very good shooter, I don’t anticipate him hitting that many of his shots on a regular basis.

Early on in the Mavs game, he received a swing pass from Tyreke for an in-rhythm 3, which he passed up.  But for the rest of the night, Jrue was aggressive in taking jumpers, and it paid huge dividends for both him and the offense.  Jrue’s ability to spot up off the ball creates harder closeouts, which he can exploit by pump-faking and getting penetration.  This allows him to get easier drives on ball swings and kick-outs and also pulls other defenders off of his teammates, which he can beat by making the right pass.













5 responses to “Quick Hits”

  1. excellent write up
    – i agree with mekel…hes no star but hes a facilitator and scrappy defender
    – dante is a rugged garbage pale player who takes pride on defense
    – rivers is a shooting guard who cant shoot consistently
    – this team will ALWAYS be competitive cuz at the very least they play so hard on defense

  2. Man, you and I are watching the same game. Cunningham’s athleticism is off the hook, he gets those hustle points. It amazes me why we waited so long to sign him. We screwed up by not signing Covington early on.
    His has been scoring rather well with the Philly. I don’t know if Mekel has enough offensive skills to stick. He is going to be like Aminu, our opponents will let him shoot anytime he wants. They will take away the passing lanes and let him go to the hoop and block his shot. I love Asik hustle and strong rebounding  , but please don’t  throw him the ball in traffic, near the goal. The national broadcaster talk about he so slow when he gets the ball down low. His first move is to bring the ball down, then he slowly brings it up , instead of just going up. I am know the coaches are working with him to stop that bad habit. Overall his presents on the floor was surly missed when he was out with the back issues  .He is our enforcer and does an excellent job and his presents is appreciated alone with his shot blocking and rebounding.

  3. This is a great post.   Timely, well thought out, and interesting points.    
    I hope Rivers gets back to playing defense the way Cunningham plays defense.   His efforts on that end have been worse this year than last.   I’d love to see Withey and Ajinca absorb some of that energy and enthusiasm for defense as well.    I think Dante has hit the floor hustling more times than those two players in their Pelicans history.
    Mekel should never shoot, but the problem is that the rest of the guys other than Anderson can only shoot in very limited situations.   Ajinca, Rivers, Cunningham, Salmons, and Babbitt all require any jump shot to be uncontested in order to score, and none are really strong at the rim.     Asik needs the ball delivered above his chest, with no traffic, and at the rim.   Babbitt has been better than Anderson this year at making himself available to receive the ball where he needs it.   Ajinca does it once or twice a game, as does Rivers.   That should happen once or twice a possession for each guy.   Unfortunately, our guys stand still a LOT for long stretches of game time, and don’t get separation.    Now that we have a better passer the guys I hope the others take advantage.

  4. kfte Took awhile to sign Cunningham because he has domestic violence charges that were eventually dropped.
    You took the words out of my mouth about Mekel.  He’s a great facilitator, but since he can’t shoot opponents will know he’s looking to pass and leave him wide open. (in his case, a bad thing)

  5. The low bounce passes to Asik lead to many turnovers.

    This can be easily prevented by our guards by passing towards his chest.

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